BARKS from the Guild May 2019

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© Can Stock Photo/websubstance

BARKS from the Guild Issue 36 / MAY 2019

TRAINING From Death Row to Medical Alert Dog

FELINE The Impact of Pain on Behavior EQUINE The Effects of Long-Term Stabling

CANINE Triggers, Overarousal and Thresholds TRAINING Busting the Muzzle Myth

CONSULTING Humane Education

CASE STUDY The Foes Who Became Friends

Training, Behavior Change and Management:

Developing a Comprehensive, Force-Free Toolbox for Shelters and Rescues

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 Pet Professional Guild)

Pet Professional Guild Steering Committee Kelly Fahey, Paula Garber, Kelly Lee, Debra Millikan, Susan Nilson, Mary Richards, Louise Stapleton-Frappell, Niki Tudge

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

Submissions BARKS encourages the submission of original written materials. Please 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 Kelly Fahey at to obtain a copy of rates, ad specifications, format requirements and deadlines. Advertising information is also available at

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

To be in any way affiliated with the Pet Professional Guild, all members must adhere to a strict code of conduct. Pet Professional Guild members understand force-free to mean that no pain, force or fear and no shock, choke or prong are ever employed to train or care for a pet.

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


from the editor

t PPG’s inaugural convention in Tampa, Florida in November 2015, keynote speaker Dr. Karen Overall delivered a memorable opening session titled From Leashes to Neurons: Humane Behavioral Care for Dogs ( During that session, Overall addressed behavior assessments for shelter dogs, and said that a test carried out in a shelter is “not predictive of how a dog will behave out of the shelter” and “not worth the paper it is written on.” Indeed, in their paper No better than flipping a coin: Reconsidering canine behavior evaluations in animal shelters (, Patronek and Bradley (2016) reference “flawed formal evaluations” as the result of “eliciting warning and biting behaviors,” stating that it may be “far better for dogs, shelters, and communities if effort spent on frequently misleading testing was instead spent in maximizing opportunities to interact with dogs in normal and enjoyable ways that mirror what they are expected to do once adopted (e.g., walking, socializing with people, playgroups with other dogs, games, training).” Our cover feature this month focuses on the work of PPG’s Shelter and Rescue Division and its continued preparation of PPG-sanctioned resources based on the results of its 2017 Survey of Shelters and Rescues. A key part of the committee’s vision is to provide easy access to consistent, accurate, rescue specific, science-based, force-free training materials highlighting best practices in behavior modification and management for the most common behavior problems seen in cats and dogs who are either in a physical brick-and-mortar shelter setting or a foster home. In the article, chairwoman Dr. Kelly Lee is asked whether her division will also be developing a behavior assessment test as part of its toolbox. In a word, “no,” is her response. Lee cites similar concerns as Overall, Patronek and Bradley: “The scientific literature suggests that standardized behavior ‘tests’ are fraught with problems and we don't want to cause even more confusion by developing another invalid test. Such tests can give shelter and rescue workers a false sense of security that they have a full picture of the animal's behavior.” It’s a fascinating read and, as someone who has spent a great deal of time volunteering in shelters and rescues and having seen a great many stressed, anxious, and fearful animals, I look forward with great anticipation to the rollout of these essential resources. Elsewhere, this issue features our usual wide range of articles pertaining to training, behavior, pet care, business and consulting. We present the tale of Halligan, the rescue dog who was Tasered in his foster home for chasing the family cat, instantly labelled as “an aggressive dog,” and about to find himself on a one-way trip to the vet. Without giving too much away, Halligan is now a lifesaving medical alert dog and trick dog champion, showing, once again, the enduring power and efficacy of forcefree training. Other articles discuss why training a dog to accept wearing a muzzle makes good sense, examine the marketing hype surrounding snake avoidance training, and look into the importance of identifying triggers and emotional states in dogs prone to overarousal. Case studies are always popular and in this issue we present the management, training, and behavior change plan one PPG member implemented to help an uneasy cat and overenthusiastic dog learn to happily – and calmly – coexist. Meanwhile, as the proud guardian of an aging, and, sadly, declawed cat who was left at a Los Angeles shelter six years ago at the ripe old age of 16 (-ish), our article on hidden pain in cats feels particularly pertinent. Studies show that arthritis is the number one cause of chronic pain in cats and that, according to Hardie, Roe & Martin (2002) (, a staggering 90 percent of cats over the age of 12 have some form of degenerative joint disease. We look at how, while pain may not be obvious, our felines’ behavior can give us indicators as to how they are feeling, and then, what we can do to help them. For the horse people, our equine section examines the impact of long-term stabling on horses and the potential issues that arise when they are unable to engage in species-specific behaviors. Finally, our business and consulting section dishes out more excellent advice for operators of small businesses, and features some creative community initiatives too.

BARKS from the Guild/May 2019

n Susan Nilso 3

6 10 12 14

22 25 28 30 32 36 40 44 46 50 52 55 56 58 60 62


contents N EWS

Portland 2019 session recordings, Pet Dog Ambassador, Project Trade, podcasts, webinars and workshops




Report from PPG’s February Training Skills workshop




Report from PPG British Isles’ attendance at WOOF! 2019



Julie Naismith reports on how member views are shaping PPG’s contribution to shelter and rescue organizations; Glenn Pierce and Maria Karunungan provide an update on resources currently in the pipeline




Ariel Baber relates the tale of Halligan, the dog who was one step away from euthanasia, and is now a lifesaving medical alert dog and trick dog champion




Rachel Brix explains why training all dogs to be comfortable wearing a muzzle makes good sense


14 22






Beth Napolitano examines some of the marketing hype used to persuade consumers to train their dogs with shock




Anna Bradley discusses steps owners can take to change their dog’s emotional response to triggers




Diane Garrod highlights the importance of filing case studies and how professionals can draw from them




Tori Ganino presents a behavior change plan to help an uneasy cat and enthusiastic dog learn to happily coexist


Andrea Carne discusses arthritic pain in older cats, the effects it may have on behavior, and how owners can recognize and manage it



Amy Martin discusses hardwired behaviors in cats and why some cats cover their food after eating


Kathie Gregory outlines the impact on horses who spend most of their time stabled, whether alone or in groups






Lauri Bowen-Vaccare sets out guidelines for pet owners when scoping out potential day care or boarding facilities




Niki Tudge discusses the respective values of news releases, editorials, and advertorials for small businesses






Veronica Boutelle of dog*biz responds to your business and marketing questions


Stephanie Peters discusses the educational programs she uses to help children understand canine communication





Alicia Obando details how and why she created a nonprofit to help families care for and keep their pets


Featuring Marie-Gabrielle Selarque of ProDog Hawaii in Kaneohe, Hawaii


Susan Nilson reviews The Rescuers: Incredible Stories of Life-Saving Dogs by Laura Greaves

BARKS from the Guild/May 2019


For the FIRST Time in the US! A Two-Day Event in Florida October 12 - 13, 2019

Craig Ogilvie, creator of the hugely successful ‘Interactive Play System’ program.

uild The Association for Force-Free Pet Professionals

CCommunication, ommunication, IInteraction, nteraction, AArousal rousal & PProblematic roblematic BBehaviors ehaviors – A PPractical ractical Guide to to Understanding, Understanding erstanding g,, Implementing Implem and Overcoming Overcoming CEUS: PP PPAB=12, AB=12, CCPDT CCPDT (pending), IAABC (pending) W Working ork ing Spots & A Auditor uditor Spots A Available vailable The The DogSmith T Training raining C Center enter & D N tii Career C C T F FL DogNostics Center, Tampa, Register Now


Pet Dog Ambassador Releases New Skills Videos


et Dog Ambassador (PDA) ( has made some important updates to its website and member area to make it easier to navigate and understand the program. On the home page there are now three videos, each demonstrating the skills required for each of the first three levels. The PDA committee is currently working on the videos for Levels 4 and 5. Meanwhile, instructors and assessors have access to the videos in a Dropbox folder ( (note: you need to be logged in for access) and there is also an embedded video of each skill at each of the three levels on the public page ( that you can use in your business, on your website, email to clients, or in your marketing activities. As an example, the skills learned at Level 1 are: Exercise 1 – Sit at front and side, then take collar. Exercise 2 – Give take exchange. Exercise 3 – Leave it. Exercise 4 – Loose leash walking. Exercise 5 – Social interaction. Exercise 6 – Wait to be fed. Exercise 7 – Recall. Exercise 8 – Handling. Exercise 9 – Go to place. See video of Level 1: See video of Level 2: See video of Level 3: The member area for Pet Guardians has also been streamlined to make it easier to navigate (note: you need to be logged in for access).

Portland Summit Sessions Recordings Available


essions at PPG’s 2019 Aggression and Bite Prevention Seminar, held in Portland, Oregon last month have been recorded and are now available for sale ( PPG members will receive a discount on any purchases. We will feature a full report from the event in the July issue of BARKS.

Pet Personality Survey


f you have pets, or are involved in petsitting or dog walking, can you spare a few minutes to complete this survey ( /jfe/form/SV _emUTe5ZHfm9x0Mdto) tell Dr. Patrizia Piotti, Tom Lockhart, Dr. Liam Satchell, and Oliver Waddup about the personality of your pets and/or the animals you work with?

© Can Stock Photo/ESIGHT


BARKS from the Guild/May 2019

Survey: Has Your Pet Stayed in an Overnight Critical Care Facility?


n honor of her late 6year-old Aussie, Willow (photo, right), PPG member Lisa Lyle Waggoner CPDT-KA CSAT PMCT2 has launched a new non-profit corporation, Willow’s NamaStay (, to help guardians find complementary lodging so they can overnight nearby when their pet is in a critical care facility not in their home town. Can you spend a few minutes filling out a short survey ( _tboHXrulD5DSozMDwaYxHVyX5-QwUw7XMg/viewform) to help Waggoner project how people may use the new service? Says Waggoner: “We lost Willow last year to liver disease. When she was in a critical care facility for six days, we were driving 200 miles a day to be with her during daytime hours.” The new corporation aims to help other pet guardians in a similar situation: “From the greatest of sorrow, a new purpose was born,” says Waggoner. Please spare a moment to complete the short Emergency Veterinary Care survey to let Waggoner know how many nights (if any) your pet has stayed overnight in a critical care facility. Thank you!

PPG Names January Project Trade Ambassador



ongratulations again to Brooke Eskridge of Petagogy ( in Boise, Idaho, USA for collecting two prong collars, one shock collar and one choke collar. She has been named Project Trade Ambassador for January 2019.

Gear collected by Brooke Eskridge as part of Project Trade

BARKS Podcasts: Schedule

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.

Find out more about how Project Trade can help your business in ‘Helping Dogs, Helping Families,’ BARKS from the Guild, March 2017, pp.20-25 (

Recent Podcasts:

March 5, 2019: Veronica Boutelle and Gina Phairas of PPG Corporate Partner dogbiz discuss how to start a dog training business— the start up process, what it takes to be your own boss and succeed as a dog trainer, avoiding common mistakes and sidestepping common misconceptions, and ethical entrepreneurship in an unregulated industry:

Special #ShockFreeCoalition Podcasts

Project Trade - a strategic way to apply a discounted service policy in exchange for aversive training equipment from September 26, 2017: Friday, May 10, 2019 - 11 a.m. EST Guest: Marco Adda. Topic: Free-ranging dogs are one of the most widely distributed carnivores in the world, yet scientists are only just beginning to study their behavior. They represent a critical field of observation where humandog interaction can reveal essential understanding about society, human and dog behavior (see A Better Dog-Human Understanding, BARKS from the Guild, January 2019, pp.34-38 Register to listen live:

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: Note: Schedule is correct at time of going to press but is subject to change Find and listen to all earlier BARKS Podcasts: BARKS from the Guild/May 2019




PPGBI/WOOF! Selfie Contest Winner

ongratulations to Claire Lee who has won the PPGBI WOOF! 2019 selfie competition. She has won a ticket to PPG Summit 2020 (details unavailable at time of going to press - see petprofessionalguild .com/Educational-Summits for updates). Lee is a veterinary nurse at Emerson's Green Veterinary Surgery in Bristol, England and is currently studying for a degree in applied behavior and training. See the winning photo and our full event report on pp.12-13.


PPG Members’ Message Board

n addition to its popular members’ Facebook page, PPG has an online Discussion Forum ( /Member-Discussion-Board) for members to ask questions, solicit advice, discuss pertinent issues and so on. You can join the discussion in the members’ area of the website ( /PPGMemberArea).


Subscribe to BARKS Blog

he BARKS Blog ( posts at least twice a week on all topics related to dogs, cats, pet care, behavior, training, and consulting. Make sure you don’t miss new posts by subscribing (barksfromtheguild .com/subscribe). You can also order a print copy of BARKS and view the Contents page of the upcoming issue (

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

Keeping Dogs Safe - Presented by Jane Bowers Wednesday, May 1, 2019 - Noon (EDT)

Free-Ranging Bali dogs: Behavior, Lifestyle, Personality and Preservation - Presented by Marco Adda Friday, May 10, 2019 - 1 p.m. (EDT) Recovering Missing Animals - Presented by Jane Bowers Monday, June 3, 2019 - 1 p.m. (EDT)

Riding with the Clicker - Presented by Alexandra Kurland Wednesday, June 5, 2019 - 1:30 p.m. (EDT)

Assessing Canine Communication in High Stress Environments Presented by Jane Bowers Tuesday, July 2, 2019 - 1 p.m. (EDT)

Counterconditioning Dogs to New Things and Situations - Presented by Jane Bowers Tuesday, August 6, 2019 - Noon (EDT)

Stereotypies: What is Being Repetitive About? - Presented by Eduardo Fernandez Ph.D Wednesday, September 11, 2019 - 2 p.m. (EDT)

PPG Webinars On Demand

Listen any time! (Scroll down to find all the latest additions):

Educational Summits

PPG Canine Aggression and Safety Education Seminar April 2628, 2019 (Portland, Oregon) - Session Recordings • Details of all upcoming summits:

Residential Workshops

Successfully Train and Compete in The Show Ring - Learn The Knowledge and Skills You Need to Compete or Teach a Professional Curriculum with Vicki Ronchette, supported by Niki Tudge (Tampa, Florida) (see also ad on p.49) Saturday, September 21, 2019 - 9 a.m. (EDT) Sunday, September 22, 2019 - 4 p.m. (EDT) Communication, Interaction, Arousal and Problematic Behaviors with Craig Ogilvie (Tampa, Florida) (see also ad on p.5) Saturday, October 12, 2019 - 9 a.m. (EDT) Sunday, October 13, 2019 - 4 p.m. (EDT) Become an Accredited Scent Instructor with Dr. Robert Hewings (see also ad on p.9) Saturday, November 9, 2019 - 9 a.m. (EST) Wednesday, November 13, 2019 - 4:30 p.m. (EST)

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder – Assistance Dog Training with Dr. Robert Hewings (see also ad on p.43) Monday, November 18, 2019 - 9 a.m. (EST) Tuesday, November 19, 2019 - 4:30 p.m. (EST) • Details of all upcoming workshops:

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 live webinars, as well as discounted and on-demand webinars: 8

BARKS BARKS from from the the Guild/January Guild/May 2019 2018

Become an Accredited Scent Instructor!

Presented by Dr. Robert Hewings of The UK College of Scent Dogs



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Certificates Certificates ac accredited credited by by The The UKCSD UKCSD Ltd Ltd Continuing Continuing Education Education Units PPAB PP PAB 25, IAABC IA pending,, CCPDT pending CCPD PDTT pending pending.. NACSW NACSW contacted contacted rregarding egarding CEU CEUss Working Working Spots & Auditor Auditor Spots A Available vailable


.com/November-2019-Accredited-Scent-Instructor-&-PTSD-Training PetProffessionalGuild essionalG


Converging Art and Science

BARKS reports on PPG’s February workshop for behavior geeks


PPG’s February workshop focused on fine tuning training skills while tracking progress and analyzing data

n February, PPG president Niki Tudge (photo, above right, walking with dog) hosted the two-day workshop, Behavior Geeks – Fine Tune Your Training Skills in a New Context and Learn to Scientifically Track Your Training Progress, at PPG HQ in Tampa, Florida. The event was described as a “unique workshop where the art and science of training and behavior analysis converge.” As such, attendees had the opportunity to tweak and improve their mechanical skills in a new context while learning a new activity, and, at the same time, tracking and analyzing their training efficiency and effectiveness. The workshop was open to both working and auditor spots and featured a combination of theoretical sessions and labs. Goals were wideranging, and included: • Improving mechanics though timing, position and dexterity skills. • Using creative reinforcement delivery, positions and rates. • Being proficient in functionally analyzing behavior. • Learning how to effectively perform and teach others to train dogs around key agility equipment. • Learning how to baseline and track behavior change to ensure training is taking place. • Bridging efficiency, reinforcement delivery and timing. • Learning how to effectively integrate two pieces of affordable agility equipment into a pet manners class so as to increase fun and learner retention for both human and pet. Those with working spots were able to participate in all working activities, determine goals, work on criteria for practical activities, and review progress charts. Those with auditor spots, having teamed up with someone with a working spot, were tasked with tracking data, providing data feedback, helping with reviews, and supporting and participating in behavior goals and criteria. “As professional trainers it can be difficult sometimes to really assess how effective we are,” said Tudge. “We get 10

BARKS from the Guild/May 2019

Is it Reinforcing? – Three Things to Consider

The definition of a reinforcer - a consequence; post-behavior experience must have three characteristics to qualify as reinforcement: 1. The behavior must have a consequence. 2. The behavior must increase in strength. 3. The increase in strength must be a result of the consequence.

- Paul Chance: Learning and Behavior, 2008

© Niki Tudge/DogNostics 2018

stuck in ruts and find ourselves repeating the tried and true. Yet, when we take ourselves out of the old framework and move into a new context, fresh learning begins.” Post-event, attendees were quick to comment on what they had learned: “The workshop…showed me some great ways to measure my achievements in training, while also touching on a variety of other useful training information,” said Kimberly Archer, while Alex Walker found she had gained “a better understanding about how to track behavior data in a way that is not only fun but easy to use with potential clients.” Melanie McKeever saw it as “a great opportunity to get hands-on practice working on your mechanical skills, while being challenged to see learning from the perspective of the pet-dog owner,” and Monica Hanna also appreciated the “systematic approach to insure that clients and dogs are set up for successful learning at their own pace.” n

About the Instructor Niki Tudge MBA PCBC-A CDBC CDT is president and founder of PPG, president and founder of The DogSmith, president of Doggone Safe, and founder and faculty member at DogNostics Career Center.




BARKS reports from PPG British Isles’ attendance at WOOF! 2019 in February


PPGBI members at WOOF! 2019

ebruary 8-12 saw the Pet Professional Guild British Isles (PPGBI) in attendance as an exhibitor at the WOOF! 2019 Animal Behaviour and Training Conference at the De Vere East Midlands Conference Centre, Nottingham University, England, hosted by PPGBI special counsel Chirag Patel of Domesticated Manners and his team. The conference saw speakers such as Julie S. Vargas, Liam Landymore, Joe Layng, Nancy Tucker, Steve White, Sarah Fisher, Sarah Whitehead, Theresa McKeon, Ken McCort, Kay Laurence, Eduardo J. Fernandez, Dr. Marty Becker and Dr. Helen Zulch present informative sessions on a wide variety of topics. Meanwhile, PPGBI membership manager and steering committee member, Louise Stapleton-Frappell was in attendance, accompanied by PPGBI steering committee member, Dayle Pierce and PPGBI member, Carole Husein. The team spent four days distributing information from the PPGBI stand, which was visited by many long-standing PPG members as well as lots of new recruits. Each learned about the many advantages of joining up and gaining access to some of PPG’s many resources and programs, including Pet Dog Ambassador ( and Project Trade (, as well as how to get accredited as a training technician, canine trainer or behavior consultant through the Pet Professional Accreditation Board (PPAB) ( Doggone Safe ( was also represented, providing the opportunity for people to learn more about the Be a Tree program ( and how to become a dog bite safety educator ( A daily raffle saw new member Jill Jones as the lucky winner of au12

BARKS from the Guild/May 2019

tographed copies of Clicker Gundog by Helen Philips, Being a Dog by Karen Wild and A Dog Called Wolfie by Kathie Gregory, all kindly donated by their respective authors; Renee Will was the winner of three DVDs: Puppy Culture Puppy Party by Jane Killions, Working Like a Dog by Penn Vet and The Magic of Shaping by Pam Dennison, all donated by Positive Animal Solutions; Francine Morin won a Professional Pet Remedy Pack; and Zoe Willingham an All In One Pet Remedy Kit, the latter two prizes both sponsored by PPG corporate partner, Pet Remedy ( On the final day, Stapleton-Frappell was interviewed by WOOF! team member and occasional BARKS contributor, Susan McKeon, and was pleased to say what an incredible reception PPGBI had experienced at the event. WOOF! ended with host Patel handing out prizes from the sponsors, including two DogNostics Career Center Walk This Way Instructor programs; two £50 (US$80) PPG webinar credit vouchers; two Learn to Speak Dog programs from Doggone Safe; and three copies of the Lexicon of Practical Terms for Pet Trainers & Behavior Consultants, all donated through PPGBI. “It was fantastic to be able to represent PPGBI at WOOF! and have the opportunity to meet so many of our members,” said Stapleton-Frappell. “It was a pleasure to be able to inform everybody about the great programs available through PPG, including how to become a Pet Dog Ambassador instructor or instructor/assessor and how to get credentialed through PPAB. It was also fantastic to be able to welcome many new members to PPGBI.” n


(left to right) PPGBI membership manager Louise Stapleton-Frappell with Carole Husein, and steering committee member, Dayle Pierce

(left to right) Prizewinner Jill Jones with PPGBI membership manager Louise Stapleton-Frappell

Conference organizer and speaker Chirag Patel

BARKS from the Guild

Selfie competition winner Claire Lee (left) and friend

(left to right) PPGBI’s Carole Husein and prizewinner Renee Will

(left to right) Prizewinner Francine Morin with PPGBI steering committee member Dayle Pierce

PPGBI’s Dayle Pierce (left) and Carole Husein set up the PPGBI stand

Conference speakers Sarah Whitehead (left) and Chirag Patel enjoy a little down time in the PPGBI selfie frame

BARKS from the Guild is the 64-page bi-monthly pet industry trade magazine published by the Pet Professional Guild, available internationally to Pet Professional Guild members, supporters and the general public online (and in print, by monthly subscription). Widely read by pet industry professionals and pet owners alike, BARKS covers a vast range of topics encompassing animal behavior, pet care, training, education, industry trends, business AND MUCH MORE! If you would like to reach your target audience, BARKS is the perfect vehicle to achieve that goal. To contribute an article, please contact the editor, Susan Nilson: To advertise, please contact Kelly Fahey: BARKS from the Guild/May 2019



© Can Stock Photo/Ztranger

Management and Behavior Modification: Developing a Force-Free Toolbox for Shelters and Rescues

A survey by PPG’s Shelter and Rescue Division found there is a significant need for standardized, accurate, easy-to-use, rescue specific, force-free training, behavior modification, and management protocols within the shelter and rescue community

With the first PPG-sanctioned shelter and rescue resources in the pipeline, Julie Naismith reports on how member views are shaping PPG’s contribution to shelter and rescue

organizations, while Glenn Pierce introduces the Jumpy Mouthy Toolkit, and Maria

Karunungan explains why developing behavior and training resources for running

dog playgroups is a key priority for the Shelter and Rescue Division 14

BARKS from the Guild/May 2019


f you find gaining easy access to consistent, accurate, rescue-specific, force-free training materials to be a challenge in your shelter or foster, you are not alone. PPG recently undertook a survey of members who are affiliated in some way with the shelter and rescue community, and the results suggest that, indeed, there is a significant need for standardized, easy-to-use, and accessible protocols. This article will look at the results of the survey in closer detail and explain how your views have shaped the work of the PPG Shelter and Rescue Division.

Our Vision

At PPG, we constantly strive to meet the needs of our broad membership base and, in the last few years, it became increasingly clear to the Steering Committee that the organization needed a division which would focus on the unique challenges of the cat and dog rescue world. Consequently, in 2017, the PPG Shelter and Rescue Division was established. The division is headed by Dr. Kelly Lee, owner of Dogkind LLC and behavior programs coordinator for the Yolo County SPCA in California, with Maria Karunungan, Kate La Sala, Jennifer Pratt, Alexandra Protopopova, Lisa Skavienski and Holden Svirsky (Playgroup Team); Julie Naismith and Glenn Pierce (Dog Behavior Team); and Kim Monteith and Zazie Todd (Dog Behavior Team and Cat Behavior Team) serving as committee members. The division was formed to provide a force-free behavior resource for shelters and rescues. This was seen as a particular need because of the prevalence of the "aversives or death" defense we often see regarding the use of inhumane training methods in shelters, i.e. the idea that aversive training methods must be used to save lives. A key part of the vision for the Shelter and Rescue Division is to provide easy access to consistent, accurate, rescue specific, science-based, force-free training materials. For this reason, the division has been developing a toolbox of best practices in behavior modification and management for the most common behavior problems seen in cats and dogs who are either in a physical brick-and-mortar shelter setting or a foster home.

Focused on Your Needs

In order to ensure the division was meeting the needs of members, we reached out to shelters and rescues around the world via a survey to capture information about the following: • What are the most common behavior problems you face? • What are your biggest needs in terms of training advice and support? • What other significant challenges do you face in your rescue operation? The survey was distributed in January 2018 and over 200 organizations responded.

About the Results

Our goal was to find out which common behavior problems both shelters and rescues faced. Given the makeup of the Shelter and Rescue Division Committee (i.e. trainers with considerable experience in the rescue and shelter world), we had our own hypotheses. But we needed to know the extent to which our experience and thinking aligned with that of the members who responded. We also wanted to know if organizations were facing similar problems or if they were all up against very different challenges. It turned out that there was a lot of consistency.

Top Behavior Issues

For dogs, the most frequently cited problems were: • Difficulty in handling (unruliness/mouthiness/jumping up/pulling on leash). • Aggression towards dogs on leash. • Fear or aggression towards strangers.


A study by Scott, Jong, McArthur & Hazel (2018) found the most common problems reported by people who had recently adopted dogs were pulling on leash, chewing on or scratching furniture, and toileting in the house. For cats, the same study found chewing or scratching furniture and litter box issues were common complaints. Despite these issues, most people were very satisfied with the behavior of their new cat (85 percent) or dog (65 percent), and only very small numbers were dissatisfied. For cats, the most frequently cited problems were: • Hitting, swatting, growling, etc. at strangers. • Litter box issues. • Scratching and biting during play in otherwise social cats. • Cat-cat aggression. It is interesting to compare these to common problems reported by adopters. A study by Scott, Jong, McArthur & Hazel (2018) found the most common problems reported by people who had recently adopted dogs were pulling on leash, chewing on or scratching furniture, and toileting in the house. For cats, the same study found chewing or scratching furniture and litter box issues were common complaints. Despite these issues, most people were very satisfied with the behavior of their new cat (85 percent) or dog (65 percent), and only very small numbers were dissatisfied. (Scott, Jong, McArthur & Hazel, 2018).

Reasons for Relinquishment

As well as understanding the problem behaviors that were exhibited by dogs and cats while in care, we also wanted to know more about why animals were relinquished to shelters and rescues in the first place. If you work in a shelter or rescue you know that we sometimes wonder whether owners are telling all when surrendering an animal. This may be understandable given the feelings of guilt and shame that can be associated with surrendering a pet. When surrendering an animal, owners want to think that their pet will be successfully adopted. Many worry that if they reveal the true extent of any behavior issues, their pet may struggle to find a new home and may ultimately be euthanized. Equally though, the reverse can be true. A study by Mondelli et al. (2004) showed that people who adopted the same dog at different times reported different behavioral problems. This would suggest that owners are not accurate in describing behavioral problems. The owners' account is often all we have, however. According to shelter and rescue staff who participated in the PPG survey, the following are the top three reasons for relinquishing a pet dog: 1. Change in personal circumstances, such as starting a new job or new relationship, or having a baby. 2. Housing/moving/landlord issues. 3. Not having time for a dog. This struck us as interesting since none of them are behavioral. This result is in line with a study (Weiss et al., 2014) that found “people issues” (such as health and finances), moving to a new house, and landlord problems were the most common reasons given for relinquishing large dogs at two large shelters in the United States. In this study, behavior issues came fourth on the list. However, in a study by Kwan and Bain (2013), 65 percent of owners relinquishing dogs said behavior was a contributing factor, but again, moving was also a common reason. The next two reasons in our survey for relinquishment of a dog were behavioral: 4. Not getting on with other pets in the household. 5. Separation-related behaviors. BARKS from the Guild/May 2019



© Can Stock Photo/tuelekza

In PPG’s survey, intercat aggression was one of the most commonly reported feline behavior issues by shelter and rescue workers, but was not in the top three reasons for owners relinquishing their pet cats

On reason #5, we deliberately avoided asking whether owners relinquished for separation anxiety since many owners are either unaware of the condition, or lump nonanxious barking and chewing under separation anxiety. Hence, we opted to use the classification of “separation-related behaviors.” The top three reasons given for the relinquishment of cats were the similar to those given for dogs: 1. Change in personal circumstances. 2. Housing/moving/landlord issues. 3. Litter box issues.

Relinquishment vs. In-Care Behavior Problems vs. Reasons for Euthanasia

It is interesting to note that none of the top behavior issues cited by shelter and rescue staff are the same as those pet owners provided when relinquishing their animals. What’s more, some survey respondents commented that the most common behavior problems in shelters and res-

The shelter environment, with relatively high base levels of frustration and anxiety and low levels of enrichment may result in increased frequency and intensity of jumpy mouthy behaviors. These behaviors can be scary or even dangerous for many inexperienced handlers, who may instinctively respond with force (e.g. shouting, struggling, and/or pushing). 16

BARKS from the Guild/May 2019

cues were not the biggest drivers of euthanasia in their facility. This suggests the most common behavior challenges seen in shelters and rescues are not causing animals to be relinquished or euthanized. Rather, they impact staff and volunteer ability to care for the animals. This then becomes a welfare issue for the animals surrendered. When problems are not identified before intake, staff may be taking on animals with problems they are not equipped to handle.

Existing Behavior Modification Resources

In order to prioritize our work, we wanted to know how well equipped participants felt they were to address common behavior problems. As such, we asked them to rate the behavior/training resources they currently have in place. Figure 1 (see p.17) shows the percentage of respondents rating each item as satisfactory (3) or higher. Enrichment programs were the programs most often rated satisfactory. There was most dissatisfaction with behavior modification and dog playgroups. Figure 2 (see p.17), meanwhile, shows the ratings of current behavior/training resources across the different organization types. We can see that: • Shelters are less satisfied overall across all answers than rescues. • Shelters are significantly less satisfied with the number of staff and volunteers they have certified in behavior modification. • Participants were also asked to rate their satisfaction with staff and volunteer training. Once again, shelters seem less satisfied than rescues overall and all organizations seem less satisfied with volunteer training vs. staff training.

cover Figure 1: Rating of Current Behavior/Training Resources

© Pet Professional Guild

Figure 2: Rating of Existing Behavior/Training Resources by Organization Type

© Pet Professional Guild

BARKS from the Guild/May 2019



According to shelter and rescue staff, the following are the top three reasons for relinquishment: • Change in personal circumstances, such as starting a new job or new relationship, or having a baby. • Housing/moving/landlord issues. • Not having time for a dog. This struck us as interesting since none of them are behavioral.

Resources of Most Value

We asked organizations to tell us which additional resources they would most value PPG developing. The top request was for standard interventions for behavior problems in shelters and in fosters. Participants also told us that outside help in introducing new approaches to behavior programs would be extremely helpful. This final piece of survey data further strengthened our commitment to roll out a well organized suite of resources and best practices for the shelter and rescue community and to provide guidance to organizations on how to implement these best practices. BARKS talked to Dr. Kelly Lee, PPG Shelter and Rescue Division chairwoman, about this program of change and how the survey played into the work of the division: BARKS: How did the survey influence your plan for the Shelter and Rescue Division?

Kelly Lee: It helped us prioritize, showed us that there was a big need to support staff and volunteers, and shaped which programs of work we undertook first.

BARKS: Did you find any of the results surprising?

KL: Not really, but the results underlined that in addition to support with behavior modification, shelters are interested in different dog playgroup models than what’s currently available. BARKS: Who do you have on your team and how did you select them?

KL: As you would expect, all of our team hold current training certifications and have an excellent track record in force-free training. All of them work in shelters or rescues either on a voluntary or paid basis, some full-time, some part-time. We have a range of specialists and it’s not just about dogs – we have some wonderful cat experts on the team too. BARKS: What is your team working on and when can organizations expect to see support materials? KL: We have a behavior modification team who have been developing programs for dogs and cats. We expect some of these programs to be available soon; the dog playgroup team hope to roll out their protocol later in the year.

BARKS: Will you be developing a behavior assessment test? If not, why not?

KL: No, we won’t. The scientific literature suggests that standardized behavior "tests" are fraught with problems (e.g. Mohan-Gibbons, Weiss & Slater, 2012; Marder, Shabelansky, Patronek, Dowling-Guyer & D’Arpino, 2013; Patronek & Bradley, 2016), and we don't want to cause even more confusion by developing another invalid test. Such tests can give shelter and rescue workers a false sense of security that they have a full picture of the animal's behavior.

PPG Shelter and Rescue Division Survey: The Demographics

Participants by organization type: The survey logged 204 responses, which included a mix of shelters, rescues/foster organizations, and organizations where animals were part in foster, part in shelter (see Figure 3).

Organization size (based on the number of animals in care): We were keen to get a sense of how many animals the respondent organizations would have in their care at any one time. It transpires that our participants had anything from 10 or fewer animals in their care (20 percent) to over 300 (10 percent) (see Figure 4).

Figure 3: Participants by Organization Type

Figure 4: Organization Size (by Animals in Care)

Where the survey participants came from: 75 percent of respondents came from the United States, but there were also a significant number from Canada (12.4 percent) and Australia (6.2 percent).

© Pet Professional Guild


BARKS from the Guild/May 2019

© Pet Professional Guild


© Can Stock Photo/raywoo

For dogs that like the company of other dogs, running playgroups where multiple dogs enjoy out-of-kennel time together may save staff and volunteers time they would normally spend working with each dog separately

Prioritizing Handling

The Jumpy/Mouthy toolkit is planned as the first in the PPG Pet Rescue Resource collection of management and behavior modification, designed to support shelter and rescue staff and volunteers in their efforts to advance the prospects of shelter and rescue animals waiting to be adopted. Our survey respondents mostly wanted standard interventions for behavior problems in shelters and rescues. The most frequently cited dog behavior problem was difficulty in handling. So, we prioritized the creation of resources for management and behavior modification specifically of jumpy/mouthy dogs, even before we publish broader-context, introductory resources. We define jumpy/mouthy dogs as “social dogs who jump up and/or grab at people’s bodies or clothing when frustrated or excited. They may also mouth or grab at carried objects like leashes or harnesses.” Our survey and general experience indicate this is one of the most common behavior problems in shelter and rescue dogs. The shelter environment, with relatively high base levels of frustration and anxiety and low levels of enrichment may result in increased frequency and intensity of jumpy mouthy behaviors. These behaviors can be scary or even dangerous for many inexperienced handlers, who may instinctively respond with force (e.g. shouting, struggling, and/or pushing). This type of response can reinforce and escalate the behavior. Although our survey indicated that the most common behavior challenges in shelters and rescues may not be the top reasons for euthanasia, there are instances in which jumpy/mouthy behaviors in the shelter environment can result in a poor outcome.

Complete Resource

The resources in the Jumpy Mouthy toolkit will emphasize management and enrichment, as well as behavior modification. As with all other resources in the toolkit, they will be evidence-based and designed for implementation by handlers with minimal experience, and with the greatest efficiency possible to minimize additional work by busy shelter staff and volunteers. The toolkit will include written resources with supporting video and graphics. The Jumpy Mouthy management and behavior modification strategies are being designed specifically for both shelter and foster home environments. This is not only to serve both our shelter and rescue constituents, but also because jumpy mouthy behaviors are frequently more easily managed when shelter dogs are moved into foster homes. Toolkit management resources will include: use of food distractions

Although not all dogs are safe around other dogs and not all dogs enjoy the company of other dogs, providing social opportunities for those dogs that are dog-social can become a key part of their day-to-day routine. Playgroups could actually save shelters and rescues time and money by reducing time spent on managing or modifying behavior problems stemming from insufficient enrichment, exercise, and access to other dogs. BARKS from the Guild/May 2019


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and barriers; muzzle training; handler behavior tips to reduce the likelihood of the behavior; and what to do if jumpy mouthy behavior escalates to the point that injury to the handler is a concern. Toolkit behavior modification resources will include incremental training plans and supporting resources on basic training procedures and mechanics.

satisfied.” We thus decided that one of our first core projects would be a detailed resource that could make it possible to easily incorporate playgroups into the daily care of dogs waiting for permanent homes. Although not all dogs are safe around other dogs and not all dogs enjoy the company of other dogs, providing social opportunities for those dogs that are dog-social can become a key part of their day-to-day routine. Playgroups could actually save shelters and rescues time and money by reducing time spent on managing or modifying behavior problems stemming from insufficient enrichment, exercise, and access to other dogs. When multiple dogs enjoy out-of-kennel time together, this may save staff and volunteers the time that would normally be dedicated to working with each dog separately. Running playgroups also gives shelters and rescues the opportunity to learn more about the dogs in their care. They can then provide better information to prospective adopters, as well as potentially decrease the dogs’ overall length of stay through marketing materials depicting appealing videos and pictures of the dogs playing and socializing with each other.

PPG has a selection of Canine and Feline Rescue Resources for organizations to use in their education and adoption packs – they are available in the member area of the PPG website where you can download the full high resolution PDF files

Playgroup Resources

Meanwhile, shelters and rescue organizations often face the conundrum of how to allocate limited resources. Making space and time for dogs to socialize with each other can seem daunting, complicated, and risky. The opportunity to play and mingle with others falls under one of the “Five Freedoms” originally developed for farm animals (Brambell, 1965; Farm Animal Welfare Council, 1979; 2009) and subsequently elaborated on by the Association of Shelter Veterinarians in 2010, as part of their standards of care (Newbury et al., 2010). The Five Freedoms have come to be viewed as a gold standard for the welfare of animals under human control. One of these freedoms is the “Freedom to Express Normal Behavior,” which stipulates the provision of “sufficient space, proper facilities, and company of the animal’s own kind.” More than 50 percent of respondents to the PPG Shelter and Rescue Division survey were dissatisfied with behavior and training resources available for running dog playgroups and 32 percent were “extremely dis-

Enriching Play Time

Our goal is to develop a toolkit with all the details needed for any shelter or rescue to be able to easily start running playgroups that align with PPG ethics. This toolkit will lay out the latest science-based knowledge

“The scientific literature suggests that standardized behavior ‘tests’ are fraught with problems and we don't want to cause even more confusion by developing another invalid test. Such tests can give shelter and rescue workers a false sense of security that they have a full picture of the animal's behavior.” - Dr. Kelly Lee, PPG Shelter and Rescue Committee chairwoman 20

BARKS from the Guild/May 2019

We define jumpy/mouthy dogs as “social dogs who jump up and/or grab at people’s bodies or clothing when frustrated or excited. They may also mouth or grab at carried objects like leashes or harnesses.” Our survey and general experience indicate this as one of the most common behavior problems in shelter and rescue dogs. on dog play, how to select dogs for playgroups, and how to manage dog play for the best possible social outcome. Recommendations will be included that ensure medical protocols are followed to prevent the outbreak or spread of disease among the shelter care population. And most importantly, the toolkit provides a force-free, humane way to provide opportunities for dogs to fulfill a basic need for enrichment and quality time with other dogs. The playgroup team began by framing the basic minimum requirements needed for running a playgroup: a space to play, equipment for managing play, and how many humans would be needed. Rubrics for prioritizing which dogs should come out to play, based on medical guidelines, the current dog population, and other considerations are also being developed. Standard procedures will be provided for introducing dogs to each other, bringing them to the play area, managing play, interrupting play to prevent fights or to help build better social skills, and breaking up fights. Documentation processes and sample forms are being developed, including a dog play profile and incident reports. Many videos and graphics will illustrate the nuts and bolts of key concepts and procedures. The playgroup toolkit will be launched as a web-based resource with the opportunity to download a standalone PDF summary of all the material with links to relevant video clips. Our hope is that this resource will convince shelter and rescue organizations that meeting dogs’ social needs while they are in shelter or rescue care is possible without relying on aversives such as rock jugs, shake cans, or similar tools; and that running playgroups is not only fea-


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 Farm Animal Welfare Council. (1979). Farm Animal Welfare Council Press Statement, Dec. 5, 1979. Available at: Farm Animal Welfare Council. (2009). Farm Animal Welfare in Great Britain: Past, Present and Future. Available at: Kwan, J.Y., & Bain, M.J. (2013). Owner Attachment and Problem Behaviors Related to Relinquishment and Training Techniques of Dogs. Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science (16) 2 168-183. Available at: Mondelli, F., Prato Previde, E., Verga, M., Levi, D., Magistrelli, S., & Valsecchi, P. (2004). The Bond That Never Developed: Adoption and Relinquishment of Dogs in a Rescue Shelter. Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science (7) 4 253-266. Available at: Newbury, S., Blinn, M.K., Bushby, P.A., Cox, C.B., Dinnage, J.D., Griffin, B…Spindel, M. (2010). Guidelines for Standards of Care in Animal Shelters. Available at: Scott, S., Jong, E., McArthur, M., & Hazel, S.J. (2018). Follow-up surveys of people who have adopted dogs and cats from an Australian shelter. Applied Animal Behaviour Science (201) 40-45. Available at: Weiss, E., Slater, M., Garrison, L., Drain, N., Dolan, E., Scarlett, J.M., & Zawistowski, S.L. (2014). Large Dog Relinquishment to Two Municipal


sible but more efficient. While not all dogs are comfortable around other dogs and should not be forced to interact with other dogs if they are not comfortable, the dogs who do enjoy social interactions will have their needs met and hopefully be adopted more quickly than they would if they did not have the opportunity to interact with other dogs. Ultimately, our hope is that the release of PPG-sanctioned shelter and rescue resources will enhance the role of training across the sector and put an end to the view that it is not possible to be entirely forcefree in the shelter and rescue environment. The work our group is doing and the evidence we see from best practices in the field show that this is absolutely not the case. n

For further information and for updates, join the PPG Shelter and Rescue Division Facebook group. See also Canine and Feline Rescue Resources in the member area of the PPG website.

Maria Karunungan Ph.D CTC CSAT has been a professional dog trainer for 15 years. She has served on the behavior staff at several shelters in Northern California, running playgroups and focusing on helping dogs and cats find homes for more than eight years. She now specializes in service dog training and separation anxiety cases, and currently partners with Fetch the Leash (, a dog training program serving the community of Burlington, Vermont. She holds a Ph.D in educational research and received her certificate in teaching and counseling with honors from the Academy for Dog Trainers, as well as her certificate in separation anxiety training from Malena DeMartini's Separation Anxiety Certification Program. Julie Naismith helps owners and dogs overcome separation anxiety so that all parties can get their lives back on track. She runs the specialized separation anxiety training consultancy, SubThreshold Training ( in Canmore, Alberta, and works remotely with clients around the world. She is the host of the podcast Fixing Separation Anxiety and author of the forthcoming book of the same name. Glenn Pierce CTC has been owner of Powerpuppy Training and Behavior ( since 2010. He was also a behavior consultant at Best Friends Animal Society ( ) in Kanab, Utah from 2015-2018.

Facilities in New York City and Washington, D.C.: Identifying Targets for Intervention. Animals 4 (3) 409-433. Available at:


Marder, A. R., Shabelansky, A., Patronek, G. J., Dowling-Guyer, S., D’Arpino, S. S. (2013). Food-related aggression in shelter dogs: a comparison of behavior identified by a behavior evaluation in the shelter and owner reports after adoption. Applied Animal Behaviour Science 148 (1-2) 150–156. Available at: Mohan-Gibbons, H., Weiss, E., & Slater, M. (2012). Preliminary investigation of food guarding behavior in shelter dogs in the United States. Animals (2) 331-346. Available at: Overall, K.L. (2015, November). From Leashes to Neurons: Humane Behavioral Care for Dogs Part III: Assessing Behavior - What Do Tests Tell Us? Available at: Pet Professional Guild Summit Keynote Presentation, Tampa, FL. In S. Nilson. (2016, January). #PPGSummit 2015: Advocating for Change. BARKS from the Guild (16) 13.Available at: Patronek, G.J., & Bradley, J. (2016). No better than flipping a coin: Reconsidering canine behavior evaluations in animal shelters. Journal of Veterinary Behavior (15) 66-67. Available at: Pet Professional Guild Shelter and Rescue Division Facebook group: Pet Professional Guild Shelter and Rescue Resources: BARKS from the Guild/May 2019



From Zero to Hero

Ariel Baber relates the tale of Halligan, the dog who was one step away from euthanasia

after being Tasered for allegedly aggressive behavior, and how she trained him to

become a lifesaving medical alert dog as well as a trick dog champion


“From zero to hero in no time flat. Zero to hero just like that.” - Menken & Zippel, 1997

lot of people may get annoyed when a dog wakes them up, particularly if they are woken up by him pawing at their chest and licking their face. To be honest, I’m no different. I had no idea that night why Halligan (whose registered name is Zero to Hero) was insisting I get up when he normally sleeps as long as I do. Nevertheless, I begrudgingly got up and began our normal routine of feeding him first, then checking my blood sugar and eating breakfast. It wasn’t until Halligan was refusing to eat or stop pawing at me that I realized something was wrong. I checked my blood sugar. The glucometer read 54. Dialing a nearby friend (I was home alone) and pouring some orange juice, I knew that Halligan had just saved my life. In August 2014, I was definitely not ready to take on a dog. Nor did I have the time or money to properly care for a dog, but the phone call I received was enough to change my mind. I was told that the dog, appropriately named Halligan, I had met at the firehouse where I had previously volunteered had “become aggressive.” In fact, there was already a team of us in place who were trying to rehome Halligan, but, in the meantime, a couple was fostering him – except now they wanted him gone, immediately. I asked if anything had provoked the aggressive behavior. Finally, they told me that he had chased their cat, so they had shocked him with a Taser. I was told to go and get him immediately or they would have him euthanized right away. I instantly made emergency plans to move Halligan to my parents’ house because the grandmother I was living with at the time would not allow him to stay with us. A friend helped me move his kennel to my parents’ yard and I convinced my parents to give me a couple months to find him a home. When I collected Halligan, he displayed no signs whatsoever of aggressive behavior, only stress. He was underweight and could not keep food or water down. I had had no idea he was so sick before I picked him up. My first priority after moving him was to get him to the vet where he tested positive for Lyme disease and heartworm. Thankfully, the vet was hopeful he would survive treatment as long as we started right away. Six long months later with me going to my parents’ house every day to take care of him, he was a healthy dog again and I was also

I didn’t know that night why Halligan was insisting I get up when he normally sleeps as long as I do. I begrudgingly got up and began our normal routine of feeding him first, then checking my blood sugar and eating breakfast. It wasn’t until he was refusing to eat or stop pawing at me that I realized something was wrong. I checked my blood sugar. The glucometer read 54. Dialing a nearby friend (I was home alone) and pouring some orange juice, I knew that Halligan had just saved my life. 22

BARKS from the Guild/May 2019

© Ariel Baber

Halligan interrupted his owner’s panic attacks and woke her up from her nightmares without any training whatsoever, and was subsequently trained to be her medical alert dog

teaching him basic manners and cues. My parents still felt he needed a different home, but after seeing him go through his treatments and pull through, I wasn’t so sure.

Panic Attacks

I ended up in hospital in early 2015, after which my counselor made the observation that Halligan was actually helping with my PTSD. He had been interrupting my panic attacks and refusing to let me cover my face (a sign I was hyperventilating) while also waking me up from nightmares. While I did not teach these behaviors, I heavily reinforced him for doing them. Meanwhile, I had been taking him out to pet stores almost every week to help him feel comfortable around unfamiliar men. This took months of counterconditioning and desensitization and I had


I asked if anything had provoked the aggressive behavior. Finally, they told me that [Halligan] had chased their cat, so they had shocked him with a Taser. I was told to go and get him immediately or they would have him euthanized right away. to be very vigilant, advocating for my dog and deciding whether his body language indicated he was comfortable meeting the people approaching us. During that time, I had many panic attacks and could do nothing more than sit on the floor and shut down. Every time that happened, Halligan would press on my lap and chest to apply pressure while also preventing me from covering my face. Every time I had a panic attack, he reacted immediately and without any hesitation. My counselor and I started researching what kinds of tasks qualified a dog for the job of service dog. I knew that tasks were not enough, however, and that Halligan would also need public access training. Frankly, this would be a challenge, but we started with quiet public places like boutiques and graduating to bigger places like malls. Every time I went to a new place, I called in advance and asked permission from a manager. Most places welcomed us with open arms once they saw how well behaved Halligan was and I explained the tasks he performed. I took Halligan to the National Aquarium in Baltimore, Maryland for his final stage of public access training. He was as steady as they come and never faltered, no matter what we faced, including sirens, huge crowds, people running up and petting him despite his vest indicating that he was in training, and standing in front of giant water tanks full of swimming fish just inches from his face. All our hard work and many, many hours of training had finally paid off. I got a letter of prescription from my psychiatrist stating that I could finally remove the words “In Training” from Halligan’s vest.

Scent Training

When my needs changed in late 2016, once again Halligan was up to the challenge. I began experiencing severe drops in blood sugar with no warning. My doctor could not understand why, leaving me uncertain of how to keep living my life as normal. Halligan understood that something was happening and would become unsettled when my sugar would drop, but we did not have clear communication between us until I started scent training with him. It took a very long time, but he learned to target the scent that indicated my blood sugar had dropped below my normal range. After our scent training, I read about the Community CanineSM (CGCA) and Urban Canine Good CitizenSM (CGCU) tests offered through the American Kennel Club (AKC). The CGCA is the advanced level of the AKC’s Canine Good Citizen Program while the CGCU is a test of practical behaviors for dogs who live in and are tested in urban settings at a more advanced than the Canine Good Citizen (CGC) title. I was able to find a local evaluator who would be able to offer me the CGCA and it took a couple weeks to find another dog suitable to take the test with us since the test requires multiple dogs, but both Halligan and the dog testing with us passed with flying colors. The evalua-


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

© Ariel Baber

Halligan (pictured with guardian, Ariel Baber) was labeled aggressive and at risk of euthanasia after being Tasered for chasing his foster home’s family cat; rescued at the eleventh hour, he is now a trick dog champion, holds rally and professional stunt dog titles, and is a registered service and medical alert dog

tor then began telling me how she used to do obedience competition with her border collie mix and how much she wanted to get into rally obedience with her beagle mix. Since Halligan was registered with the AKC Canine Partners, he was eligible to enter AKC competition, so I met with the evaluator outside our training sessions and talked more with her about obedience and rally. She and I quickly became great friends and decided to train for rally together. We trained for several months before entering our first competition in August 2017. Both of us were nervous, but having a buddy at the trial helped both us and our dogs. Both our dogs qualified in the class, though we didn’t place. We found ourselves bitten by the trial bug and decided to trial more in the next year. Both of us signed up for agility classes at our local SPCA and also looked into the Beginner Novice level of AKC obedience. The next trial was May 2018 and we both entered rally and obedience. Halligan excelled in both sports and seemed to enjoy participating in trials. At the end of 2018, Halligan had earned his

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BARKS from the Guild/May 2019



Beginner Novice obedience title and Rally Novice title. In the summer of 2017, I discovered the Do More with Your Dog! trick program. In my training classes, I had taught Halligan and many of my students simple tricks such as shake, roll over, sit pretty, ring a bell, and tug a rope to open a door. I found a certified trick dog instructor (CTDI) near me and had Halligan evaluated for the novice, intermediate, and advance titles all at once. Before testing for his expert trick title, I went on to become a CTDI myself and taught him tons more tricks, like bringing me a drink from the fridge, pushing a shopping cart, and doing the hokey pokey. Our evaluation for expert trick dog was by far his favorite. He loves more complex tricks, especially behavior chains.

Trick Dog Champion

Our evaluator encouraged us to pursue the champion title, so I contacted Do More with Your Dog and explained that I was interested in having my dog go for the title, but that the scent work portion concerned me due to his job as a medical alert dog. They agreed that the scent portion was likely a bad idea for a dog that needed to be constantly vigilant to my scent, and granted me to either perform two behavior chains instead of one, or perform a box search using a target noise rather than scent. Because Halligan enjoyed chain behaviors, I taught him a few so we had options for our title. Halligan earned the Trick Dog Champion title (TDCH) on our first attempt and I was so proud to place the champion medal around his neck. Then, in March 2018 at the Tridex in Gray Summit, Missouri, Halligan earned his Novice, Open, and Proven Stunt Dog titles. He enjoyed stunt dog trials far more than rally and obedience and, in October 2018, he earned his Professional Stunt Dog title. We are currently working on our Champion Stunt Dog routine and hope to earn that title this year.

Sports proved to bring Halligan and me even closer together, even though I wouldn’t have thought that were possible. His willingness to work and undying loyalty has never wavered. He exudes confidence even when I can’t. With multiple conditions that affect my everyday life, simply living is much more of a challenge for me than most people, but Halligan is always by my side to pull me back to reality and alert me to sudden hypoglycemia. Having Halligan with me means I am never alone. He constantly reminds me that we are a team and that we have each other’s backs. To adapt an oft-cited phrase, when I needed a hand, I found his paw, and now that you know our story, tell me: Who rescued whom? n


Menken, A., & Zippel, D. (1997). Zero to Hero [Recorded by Lillias White, LaChanze, Roz Ryan, Cheryl Freeman, & Vanéese Y. Thomas]. On Hercules: Zero to Hero [CD]. Burbank, CA: Wonderland Music Company, Inc. and Walt Disney Music Company Ariel Baber CTT-A CTDI CCC is dog bite safety educator, Be a Tree presenter, CGC evaluator and PDA instructor/assessor who operates Fired Up! Dog Training and Pet Sitting ( in Bumpass, Virginia. She has worked with dogs and horses since she was a child and her passion for dogs has grown even more since rescuing and training her medical alert dog Halligan ( -BN-Halligan-1683522931715385) in 2014. She has spent many hours teaching dogs and their humans, and also clicker training horses. Thus far, Halligan has earned the titles CGCA, CGCU, TKP, TDCH, SDPro, RN, and BN and, together, they are working on earning more.

The A-Z of Training and Behavior Brought to you by C is for...

Capturing: A training process which makes use of reinforcing a behavior as it is observed. To effectively capture a behavior, we need to recognize the existing antecedents to said behavior so that we can reliably predict when the behavior will occur.

Closed Economy: A training procedure requiring the pet to work for all reinforcement. In a closed economy a pet would not be fed from a food bowl. All resources would only be available during training sessions.

Coercion: The use or threat of punishment to intimidate a pet into a specific behavior by then removing the threat or punishment when they comply. The functioning of positive punishment and negative reinforcement.

Cognition: A pet’s attending to, identifying, categorizing or acting upon information obtained from the environment or internal setting events. The mental processes used to acquire, organize and apply information. Conditioned Reflex: Occurs when a conditioned

stimulus (CS) creates a conditioned response (CR). This is a learned response to a given set of conditions occurring in the environment. Pavlov recognized that any stimulus could become a conditioned stimulus when paired repeatedly with an unconditioned stimulus.

Confirmation Bias: A bias for or against certain information to confirm one’s beliefs. Ex. Every pet I have ever spanked with a rolled-up newspaper became housetrained so obviously this method works.

Contiguity: The proximity, or temporal relationship, between the stimulus and the response.

Contrafreeloading: When offered a choice between free food and working for food, the pet chooses to work for the food. Current research shows that self-reinforcement and the obligatory species-specific response hypothesis are not enough to explain these phenomena.

Cortisol: A hormone linked to stress manufactured by the adrenal glands. Forceful training increases cortisol levels, thus is not recommended.

From: A Lexicon of Practical Terms for Pet Trainers & Behavior Consultants: The language you need to know! by DogNostics Career Center. Available from:


BARKS from the Guild/May 2019


Busting the Muzzle Myth

Rachel Brix explains why training all dogs to be comfortable wearing a muzzle


makes good sense

alking the busy streets of our small tourist town with my dog, the looks on people's faces range from confusion, to disgust, to laughter, to disapproval, to openmouthed, wide-eyed shock. The cause? Just a dog wearing a muzzle. Let’s face it, we don’t see too many dogs in public wearing what looks, to some people at least, like some sort of medieval torture device. And when people who are not dog professionals see us, they may draw the conclusion that I’m mean, that my dog is dangerous, or something else other than the truth. I’ve heard people mutter “poor dog,” or “he must be aggressive,” or even come right out and ask, “Why is that dog wearing a muzzle?” Since stopping for a long conversation isn’t something my dog can do just yet, I give them the short version: “He’s in training and we’re keeping everyone safe.” Truth be told, long before I became a trainer, I was one of these openmouthed gawkers. I stereotyped muzzle-wearing dogs as “aggressive,” and wondered what on earth the owner was doing to the dog that he needed what I saw to be a cage on his face. But last year I adopted a dog named Apache, a long-termer at our rural Arkansas shelter. We were head-over-heels for each other and had worked together on and off for his 2½ years there. A bully breed mix, about 4-5 years old with a multiple bite history, management labeled him “unadoptable” and relegated him to a lonely isolated corner kennel. Not wanting that sentence for him, I finally decided to take a chance and bring him home. Apache had had four (reported) bites, Levels 2 through 4 on the Dunbar Scale. I heard the term “zero dog” at a recent conference, and this would describe my boy perfectly, i.e. in the fourth quadrant of “no warning/bite” and the most difficult to rehab. In fact, he does give a warning, but it’s so subtle it’s tough to train—even when working with my decade of experience, the help and tutelage of a certified dog behavior consultant, a certified behavior consultant canine, and Grisha Stewart’s BAT 2.0. But we’re working on it. And he’s improving.

Risk of Labeling

Granted, most dogs don’t fit into Apache’s category, but to the general public, one look at a muzzled dog (especially a bully breed mix like mine) and he risks being labeled “aggressive” and his person “mean” (or worse). But, in fact, in my opinion, many reactive dogs who should probably wear muzzles do not. Moreover, dogs who ingest things they should not can also benefit from wearing a muzzle. I had a client whose Doberman puppy took to eating rocks every chance he got. At first, the owners had reservations about putting their dog in a muzzle, but after emergency surgery, they decided it was in everyone’s best interest he

Donaldson (2005) offers the sobering reality that many dogs “simply never meet up with the particular combination of elements that would cause them to bite, but this is a stroke of luck. There is no qualitative difference, or even necessarily a quantitative difference, between their temperament and the repeat biter next door.”

© Rachel Brix

Rachel Brix worked with Apache at the shelter for 21⁄2 years before adopting him – he had been labeled “unadoptable” due to his multiple bite history

wear one. One of their initial issues was choosing which type of muzzle to use and, as dog professionals, we should be versed in which types of muzzles are best. For me, the most recommended dog-friendly muzzle is a rubber basket muzzle. They are lightweight and flexible, and wearing one doesn’t prevent a dog from receiving food, drinking, and panting. Apache’s muzzle was less than $20 and took us about two weeks to train. He knows when he puts it on that, not only does he get yummy food, but also that we are leaving our property to go on an adventure. While I believe that all dogs should be trained in wearing a muzzle, unfortunately, most dogs never even see one, let alone receive training in wearing one. And most dogs never bite; even though all dogs could at any given time. Donaldson (2005) offers the sobering reality that many dogs “simply never meet up with the particular combination of elements that would cause them to bite, but this is a stroke of luck. There is no qualitative difference, or even necessarily a quantitative difference, between their temperament and the repeat biter next door.” Donaldson (2005) continues: “[T]he number one bite provocation in BARKS from the Guild/May 2019



© Rachel Brix

Apache (right) may always have to wear a muzzle in public, so his owner conditioned him to enjoy wearing it with positive reinforcement training

domestic dogs is some variation on a behavior we humans consider unprovocative, or even friendly: approach or reaching out with a hand.” I suppose what’s surprising, then, is not the number of bites, but that there aren’t more, especially considering we have most likely all witnessed people who approach dogs uninvited and/or reach out to pet them when the dog is asking them not to. The dog doesn’t know they mean no harm and, in many cases, the general public simply doesn’t know any differently. States Gabriel (2010): “What we forget to consider is that just like us, dogs have good days and bad days. On any given day, at any given time, your dog is somewhere along that continuum. Have you ever had one of those days? You know…bad day at work, skipped lunch, lots of traffic, big headache? You come home and even something minor goes wrong and isn’t it possible that you may “snap” at someone you love? It’s the same with dogs. Even over the course of a single day, your dog may go from feeling relaxed and easy-going to tense and cranky — just like you.”

Emergency Measures

Typically, the only time most dogs see a muzzle is in an emergency, when the likelihood of a bite is even more probable. I was recently at the front counter of a vet’s office when a lady came in dragging a stiff-

Looking for Something?


© Rachel Brix

Apache wears a rubber basket muzzle – training a dog to wear one is practical for a number of reasons, not least because it may be required in an emergency

I’ve heard people mutter “poor dog,” or “he must be aggressive,” or even come right out and ask, “Why is that dog wearing a muzzle?” Since stopping for a long conversation isn’t something my dog can do just yet, I give them the short version: “He’s in training and we’re keeping everyone safe.” legged, cowering, enormous American bulldog-looking dog on a flimsy looking leash. The dog’s nails were clearly long overdue for a trim (the apparent reason for his visit), but the dog was so petrified, he broke away from his human and dashed for the door. The owner attempted to subdue her petrified pooch as a vet tech dashed into the back, reappearing with muzzle in hand. She tried in vain for a several miserable minutes to muzzle the dog. Ultimately, everyone gave up and the dog left not only with an obviously negative experience, but without the desperately-needed nail trim. The scene served as a stark reminder of many things: the veterinary staff could clearly benefit from fear-free training; dogs need their humans’ help to have positive experiences at the vet; and muzzles should be trained in advance, not forced in a time

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BARKS from the Guild/May 2019

of crisis. As trainers, it is my opinion that we should consider adding muzzle training to our curriculums. Everyone was extremely lucky this poor dog chose not to bite. As professionals in an unregulated industry, our education and experience make us not only uniquely qualified, but also appropriately responsible for educating and guiding the public, thereby advocating for dogs in the process. Muzzles keep everyone safe: the people and dogs in the vicinity of a dog with a bite history and the owner of the dog with a bite history – not only from possible litigation, but also from redirected aggression, which Apache is prone to. Dogs who bite risk being abandoned, relinquished to shelters (who may or may not have the resources necessary to help dogs with bite histories), or euthanized. Maureen Backman, PPG accredited and an honors graduate from Jean Donaldson’s Academy for Dog Trainers, innovated the Muzzle Up! Project a few years ago, which aimed to educate the public about dog behavior while reducing the stigma associated with dogs who wear muzzles. Training a dog to a muzzle is, of course, not as easy as teaching him to sit or rollover, but should be just as fun and well reinforced. States Backman (2017): “The presence and strength of the ‘yippee!’” response is the single most important factor in muzzle training. If your dog goes ‘uh oh,’ ‘ho hum,’ or ‘I’m not sure about this’ when he sees the muzzle, it doesn’t matter how great the rest of your training plan is; the dog hasn’t made a strong, accurate association between the muzzle and the good stuff and without that association, your training will hit roadblocks.” Apache may always have to wear his muzzle in public. And that’s okay with me. Other people mind it much more than he does. I’m learning to mind it less. As dog professionals, I believe we should all consider adding muzzle training to our Responsible Pet Owners’ checklist and advocate for its usefulness. After all, as Benjamin Franklin (1735) stated: “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” n



Backman, M. (2017). When good muzzle training goes bad, part 2. Available at: Donaldson, J. (2005). The Culture Clash (2nd ed.). Berkeley, CA: James & Kenneth Publishers Franklin, B. (1735, February 4). On Protection of Towns from Fire. Founders Online. National Archives, version of January 18, 2019. Available at: [Original source: The Papers of Benjamin Franklin, vol. 2, January 1, 1735, through December 31, 1744, ed. Leonard W. Labaree. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1961, pp. 12–15.] Gabriel, M. (2010). Do Dogs Bite Out of the Blue? Available at:


Baragona, K. (2017, December 10). Making Peace with Muzzles. BARKS Blog. Available at: Dunbar, I. (2011). Dr. Ian Dunbar’s Dog Bite Scale. Available at: Muzzle Up Project: Pet Professional Guild. (2017). Why It’s Important to Teach Your Dog to Love Wearing a Muzzle. Available at: Woodard, S. (2018). Muzzles: A Tool to Keep Everyone Safe. Available at: Rachel Brix BSEd CPDT-KA has been training dogs and teaching people for a combined 20 years. Also, a writer and speaker, she has spoken twice at the annual APDT Conference and has also been nominated back-to-back years for a Dog Writers Association of American Award. She owns and operates Percy’s Playground boarding and training facility ( in Eagle Rock, Missouri with her husband, who also helps her train their six rescue animals.

BARKS from the Guild/May 2019



Marketing Snake Avoidance Training

Beth Napolitano examines some of the marketing terminology employed to persuade

consumers to train their dogs to avoid snakes by using shock, and highlights the


importance of seeing through the gimmicks

his might seem like an unusual way to begin an article on snake avoidance training, but I want to take a look at marketing strategies for some of the current training programs available. As consumers, what affects our choices to buy one training program over another? Are we considering the effectiveness of a training program or are we being influenced by marketing strategies and the deliberate use of words that are intended to sway our opinions? We will likely all agree that avoiding dangerous snakes is important to the health and safety of our pet dogs, so making informed decisions can actually help save their lives. Advertising and its effect on human behavior was first documented by American psychologist, John B. Watson. In 1913, Watson defined behaviorism as a “science that used repeated, observable human activity to develop hypotheses that would eventually predict and control responses.” (Bartholomew, 2013). From his research, Watson developed a knowledge base of human reactions and focused on shaping human behavior he felt would affect the advertising business by “catering to people’s pre-conditioned emotional responses.” (Bartholomew, 2013). Behaviorism was considered a new science at that time, along with the beginnings of mass communication. Between 1890 and 1910, advertising had been viewed as an opportunity to educate the public about new products (Bartholomew, 2013). In the early 1930s, Stanley Resor, president of the J. Walter Thompson advertising agency, hired Watson, thus taking a step into the future of advertising by combining behaviorism with the business of advertising and mass communication. Watson believed that advertising, as a form of communication, needed to be easily understood by a majority of people and would no longer be a means of educating the public about products. Rather, the focus would be on increasing product sales and growing the advertising industry itself. The image of the product, or “brand personality,” became more important than actual brand performance (Bartholomew, 2013). What, then, do the marketing strategists of today have to do with snake avoidance training? Firstly, they know that a word has the power to change “meaning, the mood, and the motivation” for the intended consumer (Widrich, 2014). There are lists of these so-called “power” words that can be easily accessed online as well as suggestions on how to use them to influence opinions. Secondly, strategists advise that consumers will notice words and phrases that are intended to grab their attention and get them to change their minds to view a product in a favorable way. Attention-grabbing words like “you,” “free,” “because,” “instantly,” and “new” are considered to important “power” words (Ciotti, 2012), as are phrases like ”limited offer” or “sale ends soon” as they suggest popularity and encourage a rushed decision (Widrich, 2014). These words and phrases are all looking to capitalize on a consumer’s instinctive reaction to words. Thirdly, repeated advertising of any particular product is another strategy designed to get and keep a consumer’s attention, using the “top of mind” technique that helps prevent them from forgetting what the business is trying to sell.

Marketing Hype

From my own observations of specific words and phrases used in association with snake avoidance training and e-collars, there is frequent usage of words and phrases like “remote,” “generous dose of stimulation,” and “collar pressure.” I also found the use of the terms “heavy pressure,” or “correction,” when referring to the sensation of a dog being shocked while looking at a


BARKS from the Guild/May 2019

© Susan Nilson

Dogs can learn to recognize the scent and sight of snakes and be trained to use that as a cue to return to their handler, who can also implement a number of management strategies to keep their dogs safe

snake. The word shock itself is absent from many, if not all, snake avoidance training websites as far as I could see. These same sites also spoke to how quick the training would be, lasting anywhere from 10 minutes to less than 45 minutes, stating that training was accomplished by using a “remote button” that was “surprisingly simple” and “inexpensive” when compared to the cost of treating a snake bite. All these words and phrases would appear to be designed to convey shock as an acceptable, easy, and affordable method of training. However, all these slick marketing terms also prevent educating consumers about the dog’s association with what is actually occurring, i.e. shock, pain, intimidation, anxiety and/or fear. States Michaels (2019): “Shock snake-aversion training seeks to instill the flight response. However, the fight or flight response is often erratic and unpredictable, i.e., the dog could ‘freeze,’ the dog could ‘fight,’ or the dog could easily panic and get bitten by the snake.” Notes Overall (2007): “There are no scientific studies on whether shock teaches dogs to avoid snakes, in part because the population data on the range of ‘normal’ canine responses to snakes are lacking completely.”

Force-Free Approach

Force-free trainers, instead of relying on aversive tools that cause pain and fear, focus on teaching dogs to respond to the sight, smell or sound of a snake by returning to his owner and leaving the snake alone. The emphasis is placed on building a relationship and bond with the dog that results in trust, all while being paired with something the dog loves, for instance a tasty treat. Explains Smithson (2018): “We teach dogs to recognize the scent and sight of snakes... This is achieved using respondent conditioning, the process whereby a dog makes an association between two events…The scent is then paired with food. After several repetitions of presenting the scent followed by the delivery of some really yummy treats, the dog begins to predict that the smell of a snake equals food… After several presentations of the snake,

Overall (2007): “There are no scientific studies on whether shock teaches dogs to avoid snakes, in part because the population data on the range of ‘normal’ canine responses to snakes are lacking completely.” 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 whole of the training process, due to its accuracy in communicating the correct response to the dog. After several repetitions, the cue to ‘come’ is dropped out and is replaced by the snake itself. 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. 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.” In addition to a training protocol such as that outlined by Smithson, there are also a number of practical considerations to set up the dog’s environment as far as is possible to avoid an encounter with a snake (Rhoads, n.d.): ● Keep your dog on a short leash while out for a walk. ● Stay on sidewalks and paved trails. ● Avoid big rocks and dense, tall grass. ● Snake proof your yard and remove debris where snakes can hide. ● Teach your dog to come to you when he sees a snake. ● If you hear a rattle, avoid that area and do not go near the sound. ● Don’t let dogs play with dead snakes. ● Don’t attract “snake bait,” e.g. rodents, to your yard. ● Avoid walking during early morning and late evening when snakes are lllllllllllmore active during the summer. Finally, consumers need to be better informed so they can base their training decisions on scientifically informed techniques that are in the best interest of their dogs’ welfare. As both professionals and consumers, when we can remove the emotionality of the words and phrases intended to sell a product or training program, then our opinions or decisions will not be so easily swayed by marketing gimmicks that are intended to grab our attention


and promise quick results. We can learn to ignore the fantasy they are selling and the “product image,” instead focusing on proven results and techniques that will keep us and our dogs happier and safer. n


Bartholomew, A. (2013). Behaviorism’s Impact on Advertising: Then and Now. University of Nebraska – Lincoln, NE: Theses from the College of Journalism and Mass Communications (37). Available at: Ciotti, G. (2012). The 5 Most Persuasive Words in the English Language. Available at: Michaels, L. (2019). Snake Avoidance. Available at: Overall, K.L. (2017). Considerations for shock and ‘training’ collars: Concerns from and for the working dog community. Journal of Veterinary Behavior (2) 4 103-107. Available at: Rhoads, B. (n.d.). 9 Tips To Keep Your Pup Safe From Snake Bites. Bark Post. Available at: Smithson, C. (2018, May). Snake Avoidance, Force-Free Style. BARKS from the Guild (30) 30-32. Available at: Widrich, L. (2014). The Big List of Power Words: 189 Phrases That Influence, Persuade, and Convert. Available at:


Anderson, E. (2015, July). Don’t Believe the Hype. BARKS from the Guild (13) 36-39. Available at: Arthur, N. (2015, January). The Reality of “Snake Breaking.” BARKS from the Guild (10) 32-33. Available at: Overall, K.L. (2007). Why electric shock is not behavior modification. Journal of Veterinary Behavior Clinical Applications and Research 2 (1) 1-4. Available at:

Beth Napolitano worked as a staff nurse in hospitals for 40 years. Since retirement, she obtained certification as a pet care technician, level 2, and is currently working for certification as a dog trainer. She volunteers at Courteous Canine, Inc. DogSmith of Tampa ( and is an AKC Star puppy kindergarten instructor.


A Better Awareness of Overarousal

Anna Bradley discusses the risk of applying labels to dogs who are overaroused, the

importance of identifying individual triggers, and steps owners can take to change

their dog’s emotional response

Overarousal” is quite a personal and individual topic for me because I have a dog who those not educated in canine behavior might label as “out of control,” “wild,” or “boisterous,” or, if they are really old school, “dominant,” or “alpha.” Unfortunately, there are lots of labels that tend to be applied to dogs who suffer from overarousal when, in fact, they are experiencing an emotional response, positive or negative, to a specific trigger.

Arousal and Arousal Level

Arousal simply refers to a dog being aware of everything in his environment (including his person and how they react and respond to him and vice versa). This includes an all-encompassing awareness of all sights, smells, and things the dog can touch and hear. Arousal level refers to a dog’s response to these perceptible stimuli.

Triggers and Overarousal Threshold

When mentioning “arousal” or “overarousal,” dog owners may have some idea as to their definition, but in my experience the consensus seems to be that the terms generally refer to negative trigger events. This is inaccurate, however. Arousal triggers include positive as well as negative events. Examples of positive arousal triggers may include greeting a familiar person, getting the leash out, engaging in a dog sport, or play. Examples of negative arousal triggers may include an unfamiliar person approaching the home, or going to the vet. Each dog will have his own individual “list” of positive and negative arousal triggers. There are multiple analogies that speak to overarousal. I prefer to think of it in terms of blowing up a balloon because I think that represents the fragility of the emotional state of the dog, i.e. an overaroused dog is just about ready to pop! We have to remember too that arousal is a cumulative state. When our dogs experience an arousal trigger, either positive or negative, think of that balloon inflating. Add another arousal trigger, another top up for the balloon. And so on. The crucial thing to add here is that arousal doesn’t decrease quickly, taking up to six days to fully return to baseline level (Arthur, 2009). When too many stressful events occur too close together, it is known as trigger stacking; once you have added and added to the balloon with multiple trigger events and allowed no opportunity for the dog to return to baseline level, he reaches a state where his balloon is about to burst – his threshold.

Neurological Effects

As arousal levels increase, hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline are released as the body prepares for fight or flight. Cortisol levels increase each time a stressful event occurs. Cortisol “has a half-life of 70 – 110

If there are tasks or events that trigger arousal, then teach your dog that that behavior now has a substitute response – calm. 30

BARKS from the Guild/May 2019

© Can Stock Photo/suemack

Each dog will have his own individual “list” of positive and negative arousal triggers

minutes. This means it can take five to eight hours for the body to completely remove it. If only a short time goes by between events, hormones from the previous events have not had time to clear and there is an additive effect. That is why over threshold activity occurs in clusters.” (Hill, 2013). The consequence in dogs that reach threshold level is that they may in the future increasingly struggle to cope with possibly innocuous arousal triggers (e.g. meeting unfamiliar people, new environments) than those dogs which have not reached that tipping point.

Physiological and Behavioral Symptoms

There are multiple symptoms of overarousal and, unfortunately, these often lead to dogs being labeled as “naughty,” “uncontrollable,” “dominant,” “untrainable,” “willful,” “stupid,” “obnoxious…” – the list goes on. But rather than focus on why the dog is actually behaving in this way and trying to understand his emotional state, too often harsh corrections are administered or corrective devices are fitted, which only serve to add further stress and complicate the issue. Physiological symptoms include rapid heart rate, dilated pupils, rapid breathing, panting, teeth chattering, wide “spade” tongue, and red gums. Behavioral symptoms include jumping up, spinning, pulling, vocalization, stealing, mouthing, inattention, and poor impulse control.

Personal Experience

I have very real first-hand experience of all of the above. My dog, who is now 4 years old, has always been boisterous and lively since I got him at the age of 8 weeks. Compared to the other puppies at puppy school, he was not chilled and relaxed, nor has he ever been calm around other people or dogs, but he has been well socialized with both. Over the last

Examples of positive arousal triggers may include greeting a familiar person, getting the leash out, engaging in a dog sport, or play. Examples of negative arousal triggers may include an unfamiliar person approaching the home, or going to the vet. Each dog will have his own individual “list” of positive and negative arousal triggers. few years, he has continued to be what one might label “difficult” at times, and given the opportunity, use all of his 70 lbs in a full on “frontal assault” – in the nicest possible way – whenever a potential greeter comes his way or a friendly dog is within a half mile radius. I have to admit it is challenging and at times even infuriating, but it’s not his fault and it’s up to me to help him through it.

Emotional Effects

Living with a dog who suffers from overarousal can take its toll on owners too. While you know that your dog is not badly behaved and you know that you are trying your utmost to help him, unfortunately, the outside world does not always perceive that. It can be a struggle to help your dog when he is doing his best to yank your arm out of its socket, and embarrassing when he is barking relentlessly or trying to jump up at the nearest bystander. In such instances, try to: • Pre-empt, so you do not place your dog or yourself in provocative situations. • Believe in yourself and your dog and don’t listen to others. • Not focus on things that didn’t go as hoped. • Not set your dog up to fail. • Not be afraid to step backwards in training to go forwards.


support from a qualified behavior professional will help guide owners through an appropriate program. Overarousal can be a frustrating issue to deal with, but I truly believe that these dogs are remarkably rewarding when we dispense with all those labels start to consider their individual emotional states and see them for who they truly are. Giving them the opportunity to engage their brains, learn something new, and alter their emotional response to triggers makes all the difference in the world, both to the dogs and to their owners. n


Arthur, N. (2009). Chill out Fido! (1st edn.) Wenatchee, WA: Dogwise Publishing Hill, D. (2013, June 22). Trigger Stacking and Stress Hormones [Video File]. Available at:


Foley, E. (2015, March 25). It’s Only Funny Until Your Dog Runs Out of Spoons. Available at: Lee, E. (2016, March 26). Trigger stacking: how we set our dogs up to fail. Available at: Kastner, D. (2018, March 8). Are you Trigger Stacking your Dog? Available at: 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 force-free and fun.

How Else Can We Help Our Overaroused Dogs?

#1. Health Check: First things first, make sure your dog is fit and well and there are no medical causes for the behavior.

#2. Avoidance: Begin by identifying arousal triggers and avoid them as much as is practically possible. If you think about the neurological basis of arousal and the surge of associated hormones each time your dog meets with an arousal trigger, respite will allow hormone levels to fall and result in a calmer dog.

#3. Desensitization: After you have identified all arousal triggers, then begin the process of desensitizing them, e.g. for dogs that are overstimulated by the sight of other dogs, try walking far away to start with, reinforce calm behavior, and then progressively reduce distance.

#4. Calm: Teach lots of calm replacement behaviors. If there are tasks or events that trigger arousal, then teach your dog that that behavior now has a substitute response – calm.

#5. Games: Lots of game play. I use game play routinely to disengage my dog from the arousal trigger and to help him re-engage with me. It works well and contributes hugely to decreasing arousal in a fun way. What you must keep in mind, however, is that some dogs can become a little overexcited by game play, so just watch that the games you play are appropriate to your individual dog and that you stop if he is getting a little overexcited, otherwise what you are doing will be counterproductive. #6. Seek Qualified Help: Helping a dog suffering with arousal issues can be frustrating and emotionally difficult. Seeking the right advice and

BARKS from the Guild/May 2019



Learning from Case Studies

In the third of this four-part feature, Diane Garrod highlights the importance of filing case


studies and how training and behavior professionals can draw from them going forward

ogNostics (2018) defines a case study as a “de5.What history might have led to challenges scription of the history and behavior seen today? modification of a particular pet by 6. What process and journaling improvements, setbacks and techniques were followed to get to the processes used. Case study inend results? formation may suffer from bias 7. What concerns and and inaccuracies which is why problems unfolded along the way? the scientific method is ideal. A What triggers were noticed? case study is NOT a single subject 8. Are there any pertiexperimental design (which is a nent statistics that can be apscientific procedure). It should be plied to current case noted that case studies can be regarding age, sex, genetics, extremely persuasive which is breed, energy levels, veteriwhy it is so important for pet nary diagnosis, and more? behavior consultants to be 9. What stress, able to substantiate their skill and behavior prototraining and recommendacols were followed and tions using learning and why? behavior principles.” 10. What led to As professionals workbest outcomes? ing with canine behavior It is important to note © Can Stock Photo/ESIGHT issues, our previous case that past case studies are Ruby was self mutilating, showing severe anxiety and sensitivity to loud noises, and not getting studies can provide insight not to be used as a recipe, a along with the other dog in the household (Stock Image) into the cases we are curkind of “one size fits all,” rently working. Often, I see but rather as a guideline, posts in Facebook groups that outline a behavior issue and ask for adkeeping in mind similarities, looking for patterns and creating solid, revice on how to work through it. If more case studies were available, I sults-oriented behavior change programs. To that end, a piece from one believe the process of formulating a behavior change program and precase might provide a key to solving or working through another. senting options could be done at a more educated level. Case Study Case studies provide a base experience and core focus to help with similar cases. It is clearly to a professional’s benefit to keep detailed Let’s look at a brief case study which involved inter-dog aggression in records of past cases and outcomes with graphic data so going back and the same household. researching outcomes becomes the norm. Unfortunately, this is not alFacts/Background/History ways done. However, the practice could be critical in more difficult or extreme cases, especially those featuring aggressive behavior, and Who is this individual? The dog’s name is Ruby and the breed is where errors can be the difference between moving forward to success Staffordshire bull terrier. The sex is female, spayed at the age of 1 year. or hitting a wall. Ruby was 2 years old at the start of the behavior change program. Her All dogs are individuals and should be treated as such, and all data weight was 37 lbs. should start with a detailed intake form to get to know the dog as well The issues were reported as follows as per the intake form: as possible from the client’s perspective. A functional assessment usu1. Self-mutilation (tail). According to the intake form: “She ally follows (see Getting to Know the Individual, BARKS from the Guild, started displaying self-mutilation after two months of getting her. From pp.31-33) and provides additional data from the professional’s point of day one with us she always ‘looked sad’ and ‘depressed.’” view. Completed cases or ongoing case studies, especially those with re2. Constant signs of severe anxiety. sults-oriented outcomes, can also provide valuable data. For example, 3. “Having a serious disagreement with the older dog” makes past aggression cases can reveal a lot about how to work with a current her foam at the mouth and her jaw/teeth chatter. case and provide a system or a protocol to help work through to a con4. Sound sensitivities: She “doesn’t like the lawn mower or the clusion. vacuum cleaner either, but she just runs away from those things and Past cases tell us 10 key things: lays somewhere/does something else.” 1. What patterns to look for that could be of concern. This was my synopsis and analysis of the intake form: Ruby is self2. How problems were worked through systematically. mutilating, stated as severe anxiety, and has had to have part of her tail 3. If health issues were a concern and why (could alert to and amputated as a result. She is on Fluoxetine and Trazodone. She was dehelp with current case). scribed as depressed and a loner when her guardian first got her and 4. What environmental factors made a difference in the case? didn’t know how to play. Now she is ready for action, “pushy,” a bit de32

BARKS from the Guild/May 2019

According to the intake form: “[Ruby] started displaying self-mutilation after two months of getting her. From day one with us she always ‘looked sad’ and ‘depressed.’”…[T]he guardian also said: “When she has been involved in something which she finds exciting, when it stops, she spins around in circles after her tail. When she is stressed, she circles after her tail.” structive, easily hyped up, and needs to be touched all the time. It sounds like there is progress and the meds are helping. A combination of meds and behavior modification will bring many more changes. It sounds like she is insecure, needs reassurance, and displays anxiety. Confidence building and stress release (and continuing to keep stress levels normalized) will help. Attention trilogy (name responsiveness, name plus come, and eye contact exercises) will help further. Assuming she is more sensitive to loud voices, include desensitization to loud noises (vacuum, lawn mower); maybe some past memory? But the guardian also said: “When she has been involved in something which she finds exciting, when it stops, she spins around in circles after her tail. When she is stressed, she circles after her tail.” More on this as we progress. The guardian has had Ruby for approximately 10 months. She has vomited in the past (although why and what it looked like were not described). She can be “overbearing” to the other dog in the household but is great with people (so that is a plus). Her history is unknown.


As is standard in behavior cases, I recommended we started with a visit to the vet to ascertain possible health issues as well as evaluate nutrition. Meanwhile, the tail biting and chasing was a significant pattern. The key was to keep Ruby from becoming overstimulated and provide regular rest periods. Tail mutilation (biting at, flank sucking etc.) and tail chasing can mean many things, but there is obviously some type of irritation there that is internally annoying the dog, whether that is neurological or something else. I wanted to establish a baseline by finding out if Ruby had any kind of pain or injury to her hindquarters area, as well as find out if anything else was going on to cause her discomfort in any way. Often, a baseline, even if all is normal, can be critical to prevention and seeing future developments quickly. Ruby was also licking and chewing on her feet and so it was recommended to have that checked out too. The general premise is that if a dog doesn’t feel well internally, it affects how they respond outwardly. It affects their stress levels, their mood, and their perceptions of what is occurring in the environment around them.



I devised a behavior change protocol for Ruby’s guardians to start with the following five steps: 1. Make sure any additions to the behavior process is done without surprise, i.e. that Ruby is desensitized to anything new that is added. Her assessment showed that adding something new, or a distraction, means she may not be able to focus on being responsive. You want to make sure she can remain focused, participate, and end on success. 2. Less is more; keep her interested (that is up to you and how you choose to exhibit enthusiasm); and keep instructions very clear. 3. Ruby is a "less is more" type of dog so keep sessions/duration short and of high quality. A good plan might be a 5-minute session/a 5minute rest/a 5-minute session and increase duration by one minute each time. Watch for stress signals. 4. Going too far too fast with Ruby will set her up for failure. Keep her successful, start at the beginning, go slowly, and she will go forward faster. 5. Ruby will progress quickly with a reward-based program. This means not pulling or prodding or pushing her to do things. Instead, be worth listening to, reward everything she is doing right and undesirable behaviors will extinguish. We also implemented a skills program to include: 1. Sit/stay and impulse control (leads to self-control). 2. Overall's (1997) Protocol for Relaxation (15-day program). Include more practice with sit/stay slowly working up to distance, duration, then with distractions. Probably a down/stay would get more duration than a sit/stay. 3. Arthur's (n.d.) Relax on a Mat protocol. 4. Develop a release cue (i.e. an on and off switch cue) - when you are done teaching/training then use your release cue to let Ruby know she is no longer working. 5. Teach get it, bring it, drop it (fetch). 6. Settle exercises. Other key points included dietary changes (under veterinary supervision), providing tension relievers, adding lots of enrichment in the form of problem solving, and preventing, managing and supervising interactions with the other dog in the household.


As we worked through the protocol, Ruby’s guardians stated that they could see “an enormous difference.” Her tail chasing had diminished considerably. She settled more quickly and slept more deeply. She was able to remain calmer and not get overstimulated when the children and spouse came home at the end of the day. We were also working an Acclimate, Tolerate, Accept (ATA) process to avoid aggression between

BARKS from the Guild/May 2019




1. Understanding the Facts/History/Background of the Case: Guardians and professionals can and should read, listen to, or view a description of the facts of the case. One useful and efficient method for ensuring that participants understand the facts is to put them in pairs and have one participant recount the important facts. The question, "What happened in this case?" is a good prompt. Another technique involves having participants work on the following series of questions: • What happened in this case? • Who are the guardians, rescue organizations or fosters, or other trainers involved? • What are the possible triggers/stimuli and motivating operations to explain why the dog involved acted the way he did? • Which facts are important? Which patterns are emerging? • Which facts are not included © Can Stock Photo/SergeyTikhomirov that you would like to know about that could It is to a professional’s benefit to keep detailed records of past cases and outcomes with graphic data so affect a results-oriented behavior modification going back and researching outcomes becomes the norm (Stock Image) program? Generally, it is important to check for a guardian’s understanding of the two household dogs. We put a process in place to prevent, manage, the facts before working on the behavior change elements. This can and supervise, which led to much better relations overall with the caclear up misunderstandings and reinforce the work that needs to be nine housemate. done. In reviewing the case study above we can also ask, “Is this case What can be learned from looking at this study? In future, if I have a like one I’m working on?” “How is it similar?” “Are some of the same case with similar qualities, this one would be worth looking back on and patterns emerging?” “Can the techniques used be applied in my current reviewing the results, the patterns, and the differences. case?” Case studies ideally include the following elements: 2. Identify the Behaviors or Problems: Clearly pinpointing and 1. A description of the facts/history/background (who is this discussing the issues presented by a past case could help formulate a dog? history, pertinent facts). current case, while realizing some of the elements will be completely 2. A statement of the behavior issue represented in the case different or, at least, customized to the individual. Equally, it is impor(analysis, patterns, triggers). tant to determine if a past case would be of any relevance at all. 3. A reference to the techniques or various triggers and patterns 3. Discuss the Recommendations: Participants should be able to that can be seen as regards the behavior issue. discuss the recommendations made and any potential issues identified. 4. Recommendations, supporting goals, and milestones (where you are now, where you want to be and how you are going to get there). In discussing the various recommendations, it is important to foster a climate of acceptance and openness. Participants must know that all 5. An explanation of the reasoning behind the recommendaopinions are welcome and that their ideas will receive a fair hearing and tions. analysis, no matter how controversial or touchy the issue. In other 6. Results. words, participants should be encouraged to consider and evaluate all points of view. Some questions might be, “Was the dog in the case Purpose study traditionally trained or positively taught?” “If there were other Case studies can be 10 to 30 pages in length depending on complexity. trainers, what methods were used and what results were seen?” “Is fallThey look at an overall dog as an individual, taking in background (if out making behavior worse?” “Are there health issues?” known), temperament, emotional state, genetics, environment, preferWith well-laid behavior change plans a results-oriented mindset is ences/likes/dislikes, and so on. The process helps maintain guardian achieved. Milestones are recorded, goals met, and evaluations implemotivation and compliance, while developing their skills in analysis, critmented at regular intervals. We need to constantly ask, “Are goals realical thinking, and decision making. It shows what worked, what didn’t, istic as pertains to the prognosis and functional assessment analysis?” If and why certain techniques were chosen. In the end, it can help them not, what is realistic? Behavior cases need to reveal information about better understand their dog and their dog’s behavior. the environment the dog lives in, how he is handled, genetics (if The general premise is that if a dog doesn’t feel known), and if behavior is learned, ingrained or instinctual. The case featured here shows that clear patterns are emerging and that health iswell internally, it affects how they respond sues need to be addressed before moving forward with a behavior outwardly. It affects their stress levels, their change process designed for lasting results. mood, and their perceptions of what is occurring Case studies can reveal other very critical information, such as how long did it take to first see results and then to get automatic behaviors in the environment around them. to achieve irrelevancy. They can address issues like what was the prog34

BARKS from the Guild/May 2019

nosis initially and how did the case transpire or work towards end results. A case is a partnership between the guardian and their family, the trainer and/or other pet professionals, and the dog (or other animal). The client is an integral part of the learning process and needs a clear understanding of the behavior(s) involved, as well as any potential risks. Studying past cases can give valuable insight to a current case or pending case and even indicate whether a behavior consultant should take on the case based on their skill levels and expertise or refer out. In summary, then, it is my recommendation that pet professionals record all their case studies if they are not already doing so. Personally, I put them into a readable format and file them under the main behavior witnessed (i.e. dog-dog reactivity or actual aggression) so they can easily and quickly be reviewed. It also makes it easy to amend notes and record the progress/results after each session. Ultimately, keeping past case studies filed and organized can make our jobs easier and help with research, education, implementation and outcome. n


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If you have a love and passion for animals and their wellbeing, and some experience/ If handling you have a love and passion for animals and their or working with animals, this could be a great new career for you. There is wellbeing, some experience/handling working a great deal of and flexibility in a Canine Hydrotherapy career. You couldor begin working in a company or set this up your own business. on your career client base, for your hours with animals, could be aDepending great new you! are likely to be very flexible and can be managed on a full-time or part-time basis.

What is Animal Hydrotherapy?: Animal Hydrotherapists hydrotherapy techniques There is a great deal of flexibility in auseCanine to help animals with rehabilitation needs to recover from injury or as part of pain Hydrotherapy career. You could begin working in a management or even as a type of exercise for animals with mobility issues. An company or set up isyour own business. Animal Hydrotherapy session commonly required as a form ofDepending rehabilitation or major surgery. Vets will refer animals a registered onfollowing yourinjury, client base, your hours aretolikely to animal be very hydrotherapist, who will review their case before creating a suitable course of flexible can be managed a full-time or parttreatment. and Hydrotherapy is a fantastic way to on gradually improve the strength and conditioning time basis.following surgery, or an injury, as it is low-impact.


DogNostics Career Center. (2018). A Practical Lexicon for Pet Trainers & Behavior Consultants! The Language You Need to Know. (n.p.): Authors

is an approved Animal Animal low impactJobs form ofDirect exercise, there is a lower risk of injury. It is also a great stress-busting activity,training which can help improve overall and reduce centre and circulation will assist you Hydrotherapy joint and muscle pain. step of the way.The theory elements of every To work as a registered Animal Hydrotherapist, you must successfully complete courses includes subjects such as; the these the ABC Awards Level 3 Diploma course in Hydrotherapy for Small Animals. conditions in hydrotherapy, management Animal Jobs Direct isof an medical approved Animal Hydrotherapy training centre and will assist you every step of theaid, way. anatomy The theory elements these courses includes small animal first andofphysiology for subjects such as; the management of medical conditions in hydrotherapy, small small animals, and water management. animal first aid, anatomy & physiology for small animals and water management. Hydrotherapy can also be used to help animals that need to lose weight. As it is a


Arthur, N. (n.d.). Relax on a Mat. Available at: Garrod, D. (2017, May). Fighting in Multi-Dog Households. BARKS from the Guild (24) 20-26. Available at: Garrod, D. (2019, January). Addressing Aggression the Force-Free Way. BARKS from the Guild (34) 32-33. Available at: Garrod, D. (2019, March). Getting to Know the Individual. BARKS from the Guild (35) 31-33. Available at: Overall, K.L. (1997). Protocol for Relaxation. Manual of Clinical Behavioral Medicine for Small Animals. St. Louis, MO: Elsevier Saunders

Jobs Direct works in partnership with Animal Oxfordshire or Newcastle. Woozelbears Hydrotherapy to offer regulated Our Animal Hydrotherapy courses are also available to international students as the assessments can be donequalifications by video link. animal hydrotherapy available to study worldwide! Our Animal Hydrotherapy When you have completed one of these regulated qualifications, you can seek employmentare as analso Animalavailable Hydrotherapistto (register with our Job Board for the courses international latest vacancies, or contact Animal Hydrotherapy centres near where you live students as the assessments can beHydrotherapy done business! with your CV). Or alternatively, set up your own Animal us on 0208 6269646 or visit our website for more information. byContact video link. The practical training for the Level 3 courses can be undertaken either in

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Diane Garrod BSc PCT-A CA1 FF1 is the owner of Canine Transformations ( based in Langley, Washington, where she conducts Treibball workshops, classes and private consults, specializing in canine aggression and reactivity.


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BARKS from the Guild/May 2019


case study

From Foes to Friends Tori Ganino presents the management, training, and behavior change plan she implemented to help an uneasy cat and overenthusiastic dog learn to happily – and calmly – coexist


i is an approximately 6-year-old domestic shorthaired tabby cat who was found as a stray when he was about 1 year old. At the time, our home consisted of two dogs and two other cats. Si instantly snuggled with the cats but would only observe the dogs from atop the cat trees. After a few months, he fully settled in and did not mind the dogs, except when he was on our bed and they moved towards it. He would then run to the end of it and air swat towards the dogs. Seeing that the dogs were indifferent, we didn’t do anything about the situation at the time. Jeter came to us when he was approximately 8 years old. A Chihuahua terrier mix weighing 30 lbs, he was hard of seeing, plagued by separation anxiety, extremely nervous of people, and his history was unknown. We started by putting Jeter on a modified two-week shutdown. This is where he was slowly exposed to the environment and various stimuli over a two-week period. He would stay in his safe place, which was a room of his own with a baby gate in the doorway, while we worked on his separation anxiety. Our other two cats had since passed away and our other dogs were kept on a different level of the house in order to decrease environmental stimuli during this time. It was obvious from day one that Jeter was extremely focused on Si, albeit in a nonaggressive way. Si was extremely skittish and hesitant to even walk by Jeter’s room. Knowing the importance of having a home where they could both enjoy each other’s company, I laid out our goals for our family and then established a management and training plan.

The Goal The ultimate goal was for Jeter and Si to enjoy each other’s company and be able to relax while the other was in view. In order to achieve this, both pets needed to reach their own milestones. For Jeter, he needed to develop a strong behavior in place of chasing Si, whereby I would work on a differential reinforcement of an alternative behavior (DRA) while withholding reinforcement for the inappropriate behavior. The behavior I chose was for Jeter to see Si while holding a stay on his bed (mat) and then be able to disengage from him. Si’s goal would prove to be more of a challenge. This is because we needed to change his emotional response about Jeter from negative to positive via counterconditioning, i.e. creating a positive conditioned emotional response (+CER). In other words, Jeter’s presence would predict everything wonderful that Si enjoys. Eventually, the goal would be for Si to see Jeter and feel happy due to Jeter’s association with rewards. We would then fade off of the rewards while maintaining the +CER. I did have an advantage when working with these two as Si had already been trained to a clicker, and knew various tasks such as offering his paws for nail trims and nose targeting items. Jeter knew the hand signals for sit and down, was very food motivated, and an extremely quick learner. I had high hopes that our goal would be obtainable.

Management Jeter’s modified two-week shutdown consisted of no physical contact


BARKS from the Guild/May 2019

© Tori Ganino/Calling All Dogs

The goal of Si (left) and Jeter’s behavior change plan was for them to be able to relax in and enjoy each other’s company

either with Si or the other dogs, although he was able to see them in passing and exposure was slowly introduced over that timeframe. This is advice that I have given to my own clients many times when helping them transition a newly adopted dog into their home. Just like many of my clients, I found myself wanting to speed up the process. The great thing about networking with other trainers is that we are there to support each other with cases and with our own pets. Even though Jeter was good with other dogs, Rich Allen from Wags to Rich’s in New York encouraged me to stick to the training plan, and every good training plan starts with managing the environment so unwanted behaviors cannot be practiced. Three baby gates were thus put in place. The first one was at the entrance to Jeter’s room. The second was at the entrance to a spare bedroom. This was so Si could easily access a room to get away from Jeter, but Jeter would not be able to follow. This is also where a cat box, water, and his meals were placed. The third gate was at the top of the stairway. This enabled me to have a door and a gate as a barrier to the downstairs where the other dogs stayed. The door to Jeter’s room was left open when we were training, and closed when we were not. This was to prevent Jeter from barking and running at Si as he passed by the baby gate. I also wanted to make sure that I was able to work with Si every time he saw Jeter. Developing a +CER could have been very delayed if the rewards only happened some of the times that Jeter was present in the beginning stages of the training. The same was true for Jeter. I wanted to develop a strong DRA of relaxing on his mat when he saw Si. Any charging or barking would delay

case study We started by putting Jeter on a modified twoweek shutdown. This is where he was slowly exposed to the environment and various stimuli over a two-week period. He would stay in his safe place, which was a room of his own with a baby gate in the doorway, while we worked on his separation anxiety. the process. A harness and leash were used for Jeter when he was out of his room to protect his neck if he pulled, and to prevent him from chasing Si.

Week One Training for Jeter The beginning of Jeter’s first week with us consisted of him learning foundation behaviors. These included a verbal marker of “yes” to let him know he had done something right and that a reward would shortly be forthcoming; recognizing and immediately responding to his name with me only having to say it once; “leave it” so I would be able to tell him to leave Si alone; and mat work where he would go to his mat and hold a stay with minimal distractions. While we worked on the foundation behaviors, Si was not in view. It was important to break down the tasks into easy and fun sessions with little distractions. This is so he would be better prepared for success while in Si’s presence. Just like I cannot focus on learning a new task if there is music on in the background, I would not expect Jeter to focus on learning the foundation behaviors with Si in view. When I found that Jeter was responding to my cues at least 80 percent of the time and understanding the activities, I decided to open the door, keeping the baby gate closed, and started to work with Jeter and Si together. Jeter was positioned on his mat and Si had free roam of the rest of the upstairs. Every time Jeter looked at Si as he peeked around the corner, I immediately used my verbal marker of “yes.” This prompted Jeter to then look back to me for a treat. His head immediately oriented back towards Si and I said “yes” again. This activity is called “click the trigger.” We did this for about a minute, making sure that Jeter was staying on his mat and quickly responding to me. By practicing this activity, Jeter was learning that he should look back to me when he saw Si. Si would tuck his head back out of view and I would then release Jeter to get off of his mat. As soon as Jeter saw Si reappear, I used my verbal marker, rewarded, and then sent him to his mat. Being a very fast learner, I was able to quickly move to the second step: allowing Jeter to

© Tori Ganino/Calling All Dogs

look at Si for up to five seconds and choose what he should do. Sure enough, Jeter thought about the situation and looked back to me in anticipation of a reward. This is called “scans and check-ins.” I said “yes” and then placed a special treat on his mat. At this time, Si started moving around more.

Week One Training for Si Positioned on the outside of the gate, Si was allowed to control the situation by being given the ability to increase or decrease the distance between himself and Jeter as he pleased. This was so I did not accidentally cause Si to have a “fight or flight” reaction where he felt the need to attack Jeter to defend himself, or run away to seek safety. It was extremely important that I did not pick up Si and force him to be in view of Jeter, hold him so Jeter could smell him, or lure him into Jeter’s view with a treat. Not only would I begin to lose Si’s trust, but I would be putting him into situations that he was clearly not comfortable with, especially if I restrained him. This technique is called flooding and can be detrimental to any animal. Flooding occurs when an animal is kept in a situation where he is afraid and is unable to escape, and risks causing him to emotionally shut down. I was not looking for a lack of behavior from Si, which is what you would see from an emotionally shutdown animal. Instead of using the aversive techniques described above, Si was rewarded with special treats every single time he looked at Jeter. Reward timing as I tossed him treats was critical. The food needed to come after he looked at Jeter so he could learn to associate Jeter with rewards. If I had given Si food before he looked at Jeter, I would inadvertently teach him that the presence of food was bad because it meant that Jeter, who he was afraid of, would be appearing. With the food assisting in the creation of a +CER by starting to change Si’s brain chemistry via the release of dopamine, the training plan was well on its way.

Week Two Training Together Jeter was able to complete his activities with ease, and Si was becoming more relaxed. I decided to move our sessions to my bedroom and bring Jeter’s mat out with him. The mat was placed across from the bed at about 5 ft. away. Jeter was kept on leash and Si was able to access my bed, the dresser, the nightstand, and one exit into the hallway. Jeter had been successfully looking at Si and disengaging on his own when in his room. Seeing that I made the activity harder by moving to another room, I took a step back with Jeter’s training so I did not expect so much from him. Instead, I used the click the trigger activity as soon as he looked at Si. If Si made a quick movement, I rewarded Jeter with a handful of small treats on his mat, i.e. a “jackpot.” Just like I would need

© Tori Ganino/Calling All Dogs

© Tori Ganino/Calling All Dogs

Jeter (front left) learns to relax on his station and check in with owner/trainer Tori Ganino when in Si’s (back right) presence

BARKS from the Guild/May 2019


case study

© Tori Ganino/Calling All Dogs

© Tori Ganino/Calling All Dogs

The introduction of a second cat tree within jumping range of the bed provided extra vertical space where Si could avoid Jeter, if he chose to

Puzzle toys were used to aid Jeter with mental stimulation; later in training, Si joined in and the two shared

a bonus for doing extra work at my job, Jeter needed to be rewarded, or paid extra, for working through the difficult task of Si’s sudden movements close to him. After one session that lasted approximately five minutes, Jeter moved on to scans and check-ins. Over the next week, Si and Jeter worked together daily for sessions that lasted between five and 15 minutes. I used their meals as opportunities to work and hand fed them a few pieces at a time. Si’s comfort increased and he was also rewarded for any relaxation that he showed. Like Jeter, he moved to scans and check-ins. Sessions were ended before Si decided that he had had enough of the training and walked away. I wanted to leave him wanting more so he was eager to train the next time. Jeter continued to work on his foundation behaviors in other rooms so he would be fluent with them no matter where he was.

since arriving at our home, Jeter was spending more time out of his room. He stayed on leash and chose my bed to be one of his favorite places to relax. One evening, Si entered the room, and with Jeter’s presence on the bed unbeknownst to him, jumped on the bed and the two were suddenly nose to nose. I immediately gave Jeter the “leave it” cue which he followed. Si jumped off the bed and disappeared into another room, and Jeter immediately received a jackpot. I thought a disaster had been averted until I went to sleep that night and discovered cat urine soaked through my sheets. As a result, I removed all sheets from my bed unless I was sleeping in it. Next to the bed I placed an additional cat box with a top entry so Jeter could not stick his head in. A second cat tree was purchased and put within jumping range from the bed. My hope was that the modifications that I made to the environment would assist Si and help him work through the setback. It turns out, they did.

Management Fails By the end of the second week and into the beginning of the third week

© Tori Ganino/Calling All Dogs

A turning point in Jeter (left) and Si’s relationship came when Jeter was recovering from surgery and Si elected to join him on the bed, moving progressively closer


BARKS from the Guild/May 2019

Week Three Training Together Christmas was approaching and I found wrapping presents to be the perfect opportunity for training. With Jeter on his mat, Si on the bed, and me stationed between them, Si began to decrease the distance and come closer to where I was. Jeter handled staying on his mat like a pro and I finally started to see the playful side of Si as he batted around the bows. I began reducing the amount of rewards each pet got in their training sessions. Finally, by the end of week three, Si started to show the beginning signs of a +CER. Jeter had entered the room with a toy in his mouth and trotted past Si. I looked to Si and saw him go from a sit to a roll on his side. When Jeter laid down a few feet from Si, Si proceed to bat Jeter’s tail around in a playful manner as he purred. I then allowed Jeter to start to drag his leash around instead of me holding it, and soon he wasn’t wearing one at all. When Jeter would approach the bed as Si relaxed on it, Si did not charge the end of it like he did with the other dogs. At this

case study I thought a disaster had been averted until I went to sleep that night and discovered cat urine soaked through my sheets.

time, I felt comfortable enough to put sheets back on my bed.

The Turning Point Jeter had to go for emergency exploratory surgery in early January 2018. While recovering on my bed, Si displayed a full +CER when he jumped next to Jeter and relaxed just a few feet away. Over the next few days, Si got closer and closer. The two continued to bond as Jeter healed. Once fully healed, Si remained relaxed no matter how close Jeter was to him, and they could both approach each other without Si fleeing and Jeter persuing. I then decided to place pet steps next to the bed so Jeter could easily access it at any time.

Fast Forward Four Months Later Si still has a baby gate that blocks off Jeter’s access to the spare bedroom, so he can have a safe place to escape to if he feels the need for it. A second cat box remains upstairs and the cat tree is positioned within jumping distance from the bed. The overall behavior change and training process was slow and the management plan was strict. I know that if it was not for these efforts, Jeter would still be chasing Si, and Si would still be urinating on my bed. Today, Si and Jeter can be found regularly napping and playing together. What is even better to see is that Si is the one that most often seeks out Jeter for his company. n

© Tori Ganino/Calling All Dogs

After Jeter’s surgery, Si (left) remained relaxed no matter how close Jeter was to him, and they could both approach each other without Si fleeing. Si is now the one that most often seeks out Jeter for his company

Tori Ganino BS CDBC CPDT‐KA ABCDT is a certified dog behavior consultant and a member of the International Companion Animal Network (ICAN). She owns Calling All Dogs (, located in Batavia, New York where she teaches group classes and private lessons for obedience and behavior modification.


The “Ouch” You’ll Never Hear Andrea Carne discusses arthritic pain in older cats, the effects it may have on behavior,


and how owners can recognize and manage it hen was the last time you struggled to get up from the floor or spent a bit too much time bent over in the garden and complained about getting old, with muscles aching, back pain, and feeling like you’re 104? The process of getting older brings with it aches and pains that we vocalize frequently and may also deal with via pain relief medication or therapeutic measures, or by modifying how we do things to alleviate the stress on our aging bodies. Why, then, do cat owners sometimes fail to recognize and manage the same aging bodies of their older feline family members? As a cat behavior consultant, my best educated guess is it’s because cats are stoic animals who are very well versed in masking pain and discomfort. I have lost count of the number of owners who, when faced with the suggestion that their cat may be in pain, immediately respond with, “But he doesn’t cry out!” No, of course he doesn’t. Cats don’t. Being in pain, needing to move slower, and not being as agile are all things that make a cat more vulnerable and there is no way they want that to become common knowledge. It is a survival instinct and one to be respected. In fact, however, according to Bahr (2017), up until recently “it was thought cats did not experience pain at all, based purely on the fact that they tend not to show it.” In my opinion, it is safe to assume this is a major factor behind why chronic pain caused by conditions like arthritis go undiagnosed and, therefore, untreated in many older cats. This is despite several studies showing that arthritis is the number one cause of chronic pain in cats and that 90 percent of cats over the age of 12 have some form of degenerative joint disease (Hardie, Roe & Martin, 2002). By expecting to hear their cats cry out in pain before admitting there’s something wrong, owners are inadvertently doing their aging cats something of a disservice. If only they knew, if their cat does vocalize pain, his discomfort has reached such a high level that something is seriously wrong and he has quite possibly been suffering in silence for quite some time. Imagine being in pain and not being able to vocalize it to the one person who can help alleviate it. It is worth noting here the difference between acute and chronic pain. Bahr (2017) defines acute pain as a sudden onset, most often

© Can Stock Photo/okssi68

Cats tend to be stoic in the face of pain rather than show any vulnerability, and owners may be completely unaware of their silent suffering

caused by a specific injury and which usually resolves itself with the healing of that injury (think muscle strain or postoperative discomfort). In contrast, chronic pain – caused by conditions such as arthritis – remains in the nervous system for a long period of time (sometimes years) and is affected by physical, environmental and psychological factors. “The consensus remains that assessing acute pain in cats is difficult, subjective and extremely underutilized. Recognizing chronic pain is even more elusive, and assessing it in cats is virtually nonexistent amongst most veterinary professionals.” (Bahr, 2017). It would seem, then, that it is crucial, for the wellbeing of cats worldwide, that, as professionals, we educate owners in how to recognize the subtle signs of chronic pain in their cats and encourage them to seek veterinary help when noted. It is the owners, after all, who spend the most time with their cats, who know what’s “normal” for them and are in the best position to note changes over time.

Subtle Signs

If vocalizing pain is at the extreme end of the spectrum, what should owners be looking for instead? The simple answer is behavioral change – but recognizing it isn’t always easy. This is where behavior consultants

© Can Stock Photo/Hofmeester

When in pain or struggling with stiff joints, a cat may become less flexible and therefore less able to groom himself


BARKS from the Guild/May 2019

“The consensus remains that assessing acute pain in cats is difficult, subjective and extremely underutilized. Recognizing chronic pain is even more elusive, and assessing it in cats is virtually nonexistent amongst most veterinary professionals.” (Bahr, 2017).


...several studies [show] that arthritis is the number one cause of chronic pain in cats and that 90 percent of cats over the age of 12 have some form of degenerative joint disease (Hardie, Roe & Martin, 2002). come into play. As they interview the owners and build up their functional assessment, patience is an absolute necessity as it may take some time to extrapolate honest and appropriate information. Merola and Mills (2016, p.2) note that “owners may not always recognise the clinical relevance of all the observations that they make. For example, they may view them as an inevitable part of the natural aging of the animal and not report them to a vet as a concern or at least not until they become quite severe.” With that in mind, a good starting point is to determine the basics: What has the cat stopped doing, or is doing less of in terms of their normal daily pursuits? The first thing I noted in my older cat – now 16 – was a reluctance to jump into his favorite chair. I watched as he sat in front of the chair and motioned to jump, but then aborted the mission and chose a sleeping area on floor level. There may be more obvious physical signs such as a strange gait or stiff posture, but the subtle signs will likely come first and it is up to their guardians to take note. Other things to look for include the condition of the cat’s coat. Is he looking a little shabbier than he used to? The fabulous body manipulations our cats put themselves in to groom (including the “snorkel” leg up over the head) become harder once pain kicks in and he may not be able to reach all the spots he would like to clean. This, in turn, can cause some distress over time as cats are generally fastidiously clean animals and dislike being dirty or unkempt. A worst case scenario is the distressing condition of overgrooming where cats compulsively clean certain areas, such as joints that are painful. This sometimes causes severe skin conditions and even tearing out of their own fur due to the cumulative frustration of being in pain and not being able to groom themselves properly. What about feeding habits? Reluctance to eat can be caused by several medical conditions, including sore teeth and gums – but few owners would recognize an older cat finding it painful to crouch down at a bowl at floor level. Close observation is a must. Has the cat’s play style changed or is he reluctant to play? Pouncing on toys or jumping to hunt down a feather on a string become painful pastimes for cats with arthritis, as can using a litter tray. The size of the tray, the height of the edges, and the actual litter itself can all become challenges for older cats. Has inappropriate toileting become an issue as the cat has got older for seemingly no reason? Finally, has the cat developed a general reluctance to be touched or petted or is he spending less time with his humans, choosing to instead withdraw to hiding places? Is growling or hissing occurring when it hasn’t before?

© Can Stock Photo/Touchstone

Cats with chronic pain may have difficulty getting down to food and water bowls at ground level; owners can alleviate the problem by raising them to a more comfortable level

Pain Management

If any of these behavior changes are noted, a trip to the vet is in order, and the sooner the better. The sooner an owner can rule out any other underlying medical issues and get their feline friend onto a pain management plan, the happier he will be. Medications, supplements, and physical therapy are just some of the many options available to give an arthritic cat a heightened quality of life. Once an appropriate pain management strategy is in place, there are plenty of other modifications owners can make to help ensure their cat’s comfort in his senior years. My old boy now has a step to help him into his favorite chair. He enjoys playing “low impact” games with toys to chase at floor level like balls and pieces of string. I brush him with a soft rubber hand brush to help keep his coat in good condition. All these things have had a wonderfully positive impact on him. I can see his quality of life has been enhanced and I hope that means he has many more years left to share with me. While I haven’t had to deal with toileting issues to this point, owners that are having problems in this area can make simple changes to get things back on track, or “in the tray” so to speak. Switching litter trays to larger ones with an entry point low to the ground is a good option. Many of my clients have had great success with large rectangular storage crates with a u-shaped entry point cut into one end to provide easy access. Changing the litter type can also make a world of difference. I had a client who preferred the rather coarse, bark chip litter style and wondered why her older cat gradually avoided the tray and started urinating in another room. A change to a soft, powdery litter – much gentler on

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older foot pads – and “ta-daa!” – no toileting issues since. Placing food and water bowls on small raised platforms, meanwhile, can make these vital tasks less painful. Plenty of options are available in pet stores and online, or get creative and make them yourself. One note of caution, however – never forget to remind owners to make any changes gradually. Many cats treat any change with a healthy dose of suspicion, so anything new must be given time to be accepted. Don’t immediately change all the litter in all the trays for instance – do it gradually over several weeks. Synthetic pheromone products such as Feliway may assist with the transition. By educating owners to recognize the subtle signs of chronic pain caused by arthritis and providing strategies for management, we can help them to have happier, healthier older cats for (hopefully) many years to come. n


Bahr, L. (2017, July). Pain Underlying. BARKS from the Guild (25) 4345. Available at: Hardie, E.M. Roe, S.C., & Martin, F.R. (2002, April). Radiographic evidence of degenerative joint disease in geriatric cats: 100 cases (19941997). Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 220 (5) 628-32. Available at: Merola, I. & Mills, D.S. (2016, February 24). Behavioural Signs of Pain in Cats: An Expert Consensus. PlosONE. Available at:

Andrea Carne is a graduate of the University of Southern Queensland, Australia where she majored in journalism and drama before, later in life, following her dream to work in the field of animal behavior. She is a qualified veterinary nurse and dog trainer and member of PPG Australia. Her special area of interest is cat behavior and her passion for it led to the establishment of her own cat behavior consultancy Cattitude (, based in southern Tasmania, through which she offers private in-home consultations.


BARKS from the Guild/May 2019


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Feline Behavior Unmasked: Acting on Instinct


Amy Martin of the PPG Cat Committee talks hardwired behaviors in cats, focusing

on the example of food caching

: My older cat does something frustrating while eating his food. He eats some of it, then tries to cover the rest of it with miscellaneous items nearby. Sometimes he even paws at the ground around his food plate or drags his placemat across his food plate, covering it a bit. My other (younger) cat does not do this. Is it related to age? Does this behavior mean he does not like his food? A: Two of our feline family members do this too! Understanding the why behind behaviors is key, as hardwired and instinctual needs are quite often at the heart of these kinds of feline behaviors.

Reflex Responses

Many of the behaviors we observe our feline family members displaying are closely controlled by genes and are known as innate behaviors. They are inborn and occur naturally in all members of a species. Within each species, innate behaviors are predictable. They can be performed in response to a cue (changing of the seasons, daylight, etc.) and without prior experience or exposure to a particular cue. Think of them as reflex responses or actions. Unlike behaviors such as learning to ride a bike, tie your shoe, or brush your teeth, innate behaviors do not have to be learned or practiced. Innate behaviors are: • Instinctive. • Controlled by genes and always occur in the same way. • Do not have to be learned or practiced. • Generally, involve basic life functions, meaning that it is important they be performed correctly. Innate behaviors are also called instinctive behaviors. An instinct is the ability of an animal to perform a behavior the first time he is exposed to something that causes a response. Here are a few common examples: • Courtship. • Mating. • Mothering. • Escaping. • Defensive maneuvers. • Caching.

Critters Who Cache

Caching behavior is the storage of food in locations hidden from the sight of both conspecifics and members of other species. For some species, the function of caching is to store food in times of surplus for

Many of the behaviors we observe our feline family members displaying are closely controlled by genes and are known as innate behaviors. They are inborn and occur naturally in all members of a species. 44

BARKS from the Guild/May 2019

Pet cats may be seen pawing at the ground after eating or trying to cover any leftover food with miscellaneous objects in what is a hardwired caching behavior © Can Stock Photo/Dimakp

times when it is less plentiful. However, there is evidence that caching behavior in some species done to ripen the food (de Kort, Dickinson & Clayton, 2005), although this is not believed to be the motivation behind house cats' caching behavior. We do know that the house cat's closest living relative, the European wildcat, does cache its food. The motivation and drive behind the behavior of caching will vary among species, based on specific instinctual survival needs. Many species of animals practice the behavior of caching, including squirrels, chipmunks, foxes, hamsters, honey bees, rooks, weasels, wolves, woodpeckers, scrub jays, and mountain lions. Cats who live in the wild (feral cats, cougars, panthers, etc.) often attempt to bury uneaten food or cover a recently killed carcass with substrate (grass, leaves, or other ground material) to protect it from spoiling or from being eaten by other animals (Vander Wall & Smith, 1987). The cougar (aka mountain lion) will usually remain in the area near his/her cache for several days, occasionally returning to feed on the carcass (Mitchell, 2013). Cougars are not the only wildcats who cache. Bobcats will also cover the remains of a large kill with debris such as snow, leaves, twigs or grass and will revisit the carcass and eat again. Panthers will rake leaves and twigs over a carcass to hide the carcass from scavengers. This behavior is very common and is part of a natural and healthy wildcat (Vander Wall & Smith, 1987). In the video, f109timelapsecaching, an adult female cougar in northwest Wyoming is caching (captured via time lapse video) a mule deer she has killed. The behavior in the video is exactly what our family’s cats look like after finishing their meal. In fact, two of our four cats do exactly what is described in the question above. After our eldest cat has finished eating (if there is leftover food), he will attempt to “bury” his meal. Our youngest female also performs this behavior after her meals. The behavior in house cats may include the cat pawing at the floor, or dragging a front paw on the floor around their food mat, puzzle

feeder, or bowl. The cat may become so focused on burying the food that he pushes the food mat/plate around. Some cats may pull a blanket, tissue paper, food mat, clothing, or a shoe over their leftovers if these items are nearby. After the leftover food is buried, the cat will generally walk away calmly. While there are yet to be any formal papers published on this exact behavior concerning house cats, we do know that many of the instinctual behaviors we see in our pets stem from their wildcat cousins. All cats are both predators and prey and much of what we observe in their behavior will reflect this. When people see their pet cats covering their food, they may think it is because he doesn’t like the food, but most likely it is because it is an innate behavior inherited from his ancestors. Even comfy couch cats who have never set paw outside may retain this important feline instinct.

Observing Behaviors

All behavior has its roots and is either learned or innate. Caching is just one example of how we can misunderstand our cats. When we label a behavior, judge it, make it wrong, or make fun of it, we risk creating a chasm of understanding between us and the animals we share our lives with. Caching works for cats and it serves an important purpose. Once we begin to understand this, it can help us gain a new perspective and better understand their behavior. n For further assistance with feline behavior issues, see PPG Feline Resources: Find your closest feline behavior professional:

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



de Kort, S. R., Dickinson, A., & Clayton, N. S. (2005). Retrospective cognition by food-caching western scrub-jays. Learning and Motivation 36 (2) 159–176. Available at: Markelbroch. (2016, October 25). f109timelapsecaching [Video File]. Available at: Mitchell, D. L. (2013). Cougar Predation Behavior in North-Central Utah. All Graduate Theses and Dissertations: 1539. Available at: Vander Wall, S.B., & Smith, K.G. (1987). Cache-Protecting Behavior of Food-Hoarding Animals. In: Kamil A.C., Krebs J.R., Pulliam H.R. (Eds.) Foraging Behavior. Boston, MA: Springer


Berteselli, G.B., Regaiolli, B., Normando, S., De Mori, B., Zaborra, C.A., & Spiezio, C. (2017). European wildcat and domestic cat: Do they really differ? Journal of Veterinary Behavior (22) 35-40. Available at:

Amy Martin has studied animal welfare, applied behavior analysis, animal husbandry, and species-specific animal enrichment for nearly 20 years. Throughout her career, her work has centered upon conservation and teaching others how to utilize force-free training, with an emphasis on enhancing the human-animal bond. During her long career at The Audubon Nature Institute, she trained, managed, bred, and cared for a myriad of species, including critically endangered wildlife, domestic livestock and companion animals. Teaching everyone from Komodo dragons to children, she educated both the public and her colleagues on how to empower all species through the use of fun, force-free techniques and she has published and presented several papers on these topics over the years. Today, she is the owner of Conscious Companion™ (, located in Newport, Rhode Island.

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Stable Life

Kathie Gregory outlines the impact on horses of being stabled for the majority of the time,

whether alone or in groups, and the potential issues that arise when they are unable to


engage in species-specific behaviors

roviding a stable as the main living space has become a natural way for many people to keep horses these days and while some people keep horses in large groups that still have the freedom to move as they wish within their environment, many horses do end up spending very long periods of the day in a stable. While keeping horses alone in a stable might be commonplace, if we look at this from the perspective of say a cat or a dog, horses that are stabled in this way are essentially living in the equivalent of a kennel or cattery. While this is an acceptable short-term solution for some cats and dogs when their owners go away on holiday, for example, it is less so for those in long-term situations, such as those in rescue. Within the pet industry, there is increasing awareness amongst professionals of the impact short- and long-term stays may have on cats and dogs. As such, good establishments provide both mental and physical stimulation, incorporating extra enrichment activities and plenty of exercise opportunities to compensate for each individual animal’s small living area and the changes to their usual routines. By the same token, those in long-term stays will have more strategies put in place to compensate for their circumstances. In the equine world, I would say it is widely accepted that a horse may live the majority of his life in a stable, and, in my opinion, there is far less awareness concerning the impact this may have on his wellbeing. People may consider it “normal” for a horse to spend most of his time in the stable and only be brought out to do his job or to be given specific exercise subject to people’s requirements. Broadly speaking, there is far less focus on the impact of horses living in containment, compared to cats and dogs, and often there is no awareness of, or compensating for, the lack of meeting basic needs, let alone considerations for enrichment. Of course, this is a generalization and some people put in a huge amount of time and effort to alleviate the impact if their horse has to spend most of his time in a stable. There are also establishments where horses get to live in groups in a stable. However, the way our relationship with horses has developed since domestication, in many cultures and professions, often no one really questions or analyzes what it actually means for a horse to live out his life in a stable. We must also remember that the physiology and psychology of the horse have not changed through domestication. In other words, despite however many generations of horses have only known stable life, the species has not adapted for this circumstance. This can result in various physiological and psychological issues and consequences for the individual horse.

There are numerous studies on the adverse effects of keeping horses in isolation. Horses are a social species and form complex relationships and need friendships. Depending on the management system employed, stabled horses may have little or no opportunities to interact and form friendships, thus may become lonely. 46

BARKS from the Guild/May 2019

© Can Stock Photo/Zuzule

Horses are tactile, herd animals who rely on each other for safety; being separated from their group can cause stress and feelings of vulnerability

The Impact of Long-Term Stabling

Let’s, then, take a look at the impact stable life has on the horse:

#1. It takes away the horse’s ability to roam: The equine species has evolved to live on open grasslands. They are active for much of the time, wandering as they graze, and engaging in locomotory activities. Horses need to move about. They have a motivational need to do so, and naturally they can cover vast areas each day. The stabled horse “may be protected from predation provided with sufficient food and sheltered from climatic extremes but may not realize that these environmental challenges have been controlled.” (Cooper & Albentosa, 2005).

#2. It takes away the horse’s ability to graze and eat a natural diet: Feeding behavior occupies “roughly half of the daily time budget of feral horses and usually entails grazing…Also, horses move as they graze; therefore, as long as the horse is feeding while he is moving, it should be considered as feeding rather than locomotion.” (Ransom & Cade, 2009). There has been no evolutionary change resulting from domestication, so the horse needs to eat a diet of complex plant materials high in fiber and rich in cellulose, requiring extensive fermentation. The horse’s digestive system is designed to have a constant trickle of food passing through it, and in order to achieve this, horses need constant access to food so they are able to graze. Stabled horses often have some or most of their diet in the form of concentrated feed which is designed to provide adequate nutritional needs by way of individual meals, but the horse is not designed to eat meals several hours apart. The problem is alleviated somewhat if ad hoc

hay is available, but some go without food of any sort for more hours than their systems are designed for. Another issue with concentrated feeds is that the rate of digestion is faster, which again leaves the digestive system emptier than it should be. The ability to graze also satisfies the horse’s motivation to move around.

#3. It prevents social interactions when horses are stabled individually: There are numerous studies on the adverse effects of keeping horses in isolation. Horses are a social species and form complex relationships and need friendships. Depending on the management system employed, stabled horses may have little or no opportunities to interact and form friendships, thus may become lonely. #4. It prevents communication between horses: According to Fraser (1992), the “social behaviour of the horse contributes to group stability and social affiliations are essential to systems of collaborative behavior, such as social facilitation, which influences communal activities.” Horses stabled alone may lack the ability to see each other properly, which results in them being unable to communicate with each other effectively. It would be like me talking to a friend in an adjoining room—so much is lost when you cannot see each other well. Horses have limited vocal communication, which is thought to be due to the fact that they are rarely out of each other’s sight. They are also very tactile and are obviously unable to touch when stabled separately. Horses rely on safety in numbers for survival and, while we can argue that this is no longer relevant to our domesticated horses, given that they are unlikely to be in danger of being hunted and eaten by a predator, their brain physiology has not changed. Thus, they remain aware and alert. They respond and look to each other for information if a potential threat appears. But horses are not able to communicate adequately when stabled alone. This can also result in their becoming incompetent during social interactions and situations, which can have an adverse effect if they are moved to a place where they are kept in a group.

#5. Inquisitiveness: Horses are inquisitive animals. They like to be involved in what we are doing and regularly offer their “help.” While they are a prey species that can be wary of many things, in their environment where they feel safe, they are also playful and daring, like to see what is going on, and be involved. Spending most of their time in a small space with very limited scope for stimulation or change quells that inquisitiveness. This deprivation also has a detrimental impact on learning and they will likely get bored. #6. It prevents play and exercise: Although play is most often seen in foals and younger adults, mature adults also like to play from time to time. Play itself is a motivation and needs no reason other than the joy of playing, but it also provides the opportunity to develop social skills, enhanced movements, the ability to improvise, and awareness of one’s own body in relation to another's.


...the physiology and psychology of the horse have not changed through domestication. In other words, despite however many generations of horses have only known stable life, the species has not adapted for this circumstance. This can result in various physiological and psychological issues. cause a range of unhealthy emotions, depending on the horse’s current emotional state, what he thinks is going on from the little he can see and hear, and how that incomplete assessment influences his emotions. This emotional state can have an influence on how he acts inside and outside the stable, and with people and other horses.

#9. Safety in numbers: Horses rely on each other for safety. They are a herd species, not a solitary species. Immediately after they are isolated, there will be some level of stress for the vulnerability that comes from being separated from the group. Horses may become more alert and show increased vigilance as they now have to assess everything on their own. This can lead to an animal that is unable to relax and maintains heightened vigilance even when with other horses. As already noted, the horse has not adapted to this way of life and his basic needs are still the same as they were thousands of years ago. Some horses cope better than others, but without doubt, all of them will suffer to some degree from one, several, or many of the physiological and psychological issues that present when the basic needs of a species are not met and they are kept in an environment that is completely alien to their natural habitat. Also, “the psychological need to respond to environmental factors may still exist even when the biological need to perform adaptive behavioral responses has been removed.” (Cooper & Albentosa, 2005). There are probably more potential issues than I can list here, but let’s now discuss some of them. Some horses shut down, so we see depression and apathy. An inability to respond and engage is a common symptom of these emotional states, which are often misread as a horse being “stubborn.” Some horses become hypersensitive and are barely able to be touched, responding in a manner that seems too extreme for the situation. Some are hypervigilant and cannot relax or switch off; they are constantly on the lookout, overly aware and responsive to every tiny change in their environment. “Apparently functionless, repetitive, stereotypic activities are com-

#7. It prevents the horse’s natural instinct to flee: Fleeing is a horse’s primary defense mechanism. Horses move away from things they are worried by and will flee if threatened. Being in a stable prevents mobility, which can cause an increase in anxiety and stress. This can then result in the horse's response escalating. With no option to keep himself safe, a horse may panic, which can lead to what looks like confrontational behavior towards anyone who goes near, when it is more likely the fight instinct has been activated as an alternative strategy when fleeing is not possible.

#8. It prevents the horse’s ability to interact in the environment: Horses use their eyes, ears, and noses to determine what is going on in their environments, decide what they want to do, and assess situations. Being in a stable where they cannot see, hear, and smell adequately can

© Can Stock Photo/stokkete

Horses are a social species that form complex relationships and need friendships, but, depending on the management system employed, stabled horses may have little or no opportunity to interact and thus may become lonely

BARKS from the Guild/May 2019



monly seen in stabled horses (McGreevy et al., 1995; Cooper & Mason, 1998; Nicol, 1999) and rarely if ever reported in free-ranging feral horses.” (Cooper & Albentosa, 2005). Wind sucking, crib biting, box walking and weaving are repetitive movements that look like they have no function and have long been referred to as stereotypical behaviors. More recently, behaviors such as head nodding, grasping stable fittings with their teeth, grinding teeth, or chewing when they do not have food in their mouths are also now considered the result of attempts by horses to adapt to unnatural surroundings. While these things are readily observed in many stabled horses, they are rarely or never seen or reported in wild horses. All of these issues are clearly the result of horses not being able to express natural behavior, innate mechanisms, instincts, social interactions, and pleasure. Some say that odd, novel or out of context actions are the result of horses not coping, an inability to reconcile what they need to do with what they are able to do at a biological level, i.e. “the expression of normal behavioural responses in an abnormal environment.” (Mills, Eckley & Cooper, 2000). Others argue that such actions are the result of horses finding ways to cope, reduce their level of distress, and gain some control over their environment; for example, “crib biting may reduce arousal in stabled horses (McGreevy & Nicol, 1998a).”


Cooper, J. J., & Albentosa, M. J. (2005). Behavioural adaptation in the domestic horse: potential role of apparently abnormal responses including stereotypic behaviour. Livestock Production Science (92) 2 177- 182. Available at: Cooper, J.J., & McGreevy, P. (2002). Stereotypic behaviour in the stabled horse: causes, effects and prevention without compromising horse welfare. In: Waran, N. (Ed.), The Welfare of Horses. Amsterdam Netherlands: Kluwer Academic Press, pp. 99–124 Fraser, A.F. (1992). The Behaviour of the Horse. Oxon, UK: C.A.B. International McGreevy, P.D., Cripps, P.J., French, N.P., Green, L.E., & Nicol, C.J., (1995). Management factors associated with stereotypic and redirected behaviour in the thoroughbred horse. Equine Veterinary Journal 27 (2) 86-91. Available at: McGreevy, P.D., & Nicol, C.J., (1998a). Prevention of crib-biting: a review. Equine Veterinary Journal Supplement 27 35–38. Available at: McGreevy, P.D., & Nicol, C.J. (1998b). Physiological and behavioural consequences associated with short-term prevention of crib-biting in horses. Physiology & Behavior (65) 1 15–23. Available at: Mills, D.S., Eckley, S., & Cooper, J.J. (2000). Thoroughbred bedding preferences, associated behaviour differences and their implications for equine welfare. Animal Science 70 (1) 95–106. Available at: Mills, D.S., & Macleod, C.A. (2002). The response of crib-biting and windsucking in horses to dietary supplementation with an antacid mixture. Ippologia 13 (2) 33-41. Available at: Nicol, C. (1999). Understanding equine stereotypes. Equine Veterinary Journal Supplement 28 (28) 20–5. Available at: Ransom, J. I., & Cade, B. S. (2009). Quantifying Equid Behavior—A Research Ethogram for Free-Roaming Feral Horses. Publications of the US Geological Survey 2-A9. Available at:


Gregory, K. (2017, September). Maintaining Homeostasis. BARKS from the Guild (26) 52-54. Available at: Gregory, K. (2018, November). Social Relationships in the Domestic Horse. BARKS from the Guild (33) 40-42. Available at: Murray, M.J., & Eichorn, E. S. (1996). Effects of intermittent feed deprivation, intermittent feed deprivation with ranitidine administration, and stall confinement with ad libitum access to hay on gastric ulceration in horses. American Journal of Veterinary Research 57 (11) 1599-603. Available at: 48

BARKS from the Guild/May 2019

(Cooper & Albentosa, 2005). Still others suggest they may be displacement activities in that horses are attempting to perform a natural behavior in an unnatural setting, i.e. they may be “an indicator of the failure to cope with captivity; for example, oral activities such as crib biting and wind sucking may help regulate stress (McGreevy & Nicol, 1998b) or digestive physiology (Mills & Macleod, 2002).” (Cooper & Albentosa, 2005). No theory has so far been verified over the others, but it cannot be doubted that horses do not employ coping strategies, but, rather, non-coping strategies. The term “coping strategy” is actually somewhat unclear in the behavior world. It is a term often applied to any behavior an animal engages in in situations he finds stressful, but I feel a distinction must be made in that a coping strategy is something an animal does that allows him to manage a difficult situation by attempting to maintain physiological and psychological wellbeing. As a behavior consultant, my work involves implementing coping strategies which are long-term solutions to overcoming emotional distress, so an animal can find contentment. When an animal compensates for his situation by doing things that are out of context and dysfunctional, to me, that is a non-coping strategy and something that should be deeply worrying to the person who takes care of that animal. It may serve a purpose, but everything about it takes the animal further away from contentment and a happy, stressfree life. n Kathie Gregory is a qualified animal behavior consultant, presenter, and author, specializing in advanced cognition; intellectual and emotional. Passionate about raising standards and awareness in how we teach and work with animals, she has developed Free-Will TeachingTM (, a concept that provides the framework for animals to enjoy life without compromising their own free will. She has authored two books, A tale of two horses: a passion for free will teaching, and A Puppy Called Wolfie: a passion for free will teaching, and her work is currently divided between working with clients, mentoring, and writing.

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pet care

Choosing a Boarding and Day Care Facility

In a new series of articles, Lauri Bowen-Vaccare sets out a number of guidelines for pet


owners to bear in mind when they scope out potential day care and boarding facilities ecause I move to a new state every few years, I know how overwhelming finding the perfect boarding and day care facility can be, so in this series of articles I am going to set out a range of tips and questions for pet owners to take with them when they are researching the facilities in their local areas. Some of the questions will be followed by a few topic-specific details that owners may find relevant as they tour the facility. I started my professional career in the dog behavior profession in 2006 when I began working for a boarding and day care facility. Since becoming a dog owner and starting my own career in this industry, I have visited a few dozen boarding and day care facilities in multiple states, sometimes revisiting them when I am in the area again. The questions I will set out are based on my personal experience in the industry, as well as my observations of the facilities I have visited, and continue to visit.

Not for All Dogs

Day care is for dogs who already love being with other dogs and other people. It is not an appropriate place to try to socialize a dog who lacks age-appropriate socialization, nor is it the staff’s job to address a dog’s possible behavior issues. Not all dogs enjoy day care. Make sure you get an honest answer about your dog’s response to the environment and be sure to ask for details if you are unsure of anything. Unfortunately, there are facilities that will tell you that your dog has a wonderful time when he visits when, in reality, he hovers in the corner, is afraid, bored, hypervigilant, or overwhelmed. For dogs who prefer one-on-one time with humans and/or dogs of their own family, I highly suggest finding a facility that offers those services instead of, or in addition to, day care so the dog will get adequate individual human interaction and will not be forced into situations he finds frightening or otherwise distressing. Keep in mind, too, that not all dogs are appropriate candidates for playgroups. If your dog has a history of fear, reactivity, aggression, etc. around or with other dogs, your best bet will be to find a facility that provides one-on-one attention, rather than trying to place him in a group. This is for the safety of the dog, as well as the other dogs and humans at the facility. Boarding and day care facilities have the right to deny service to any dog for any reason, especially if the dog exhibits fear and/or aggressive tendencies toward other dogs and/or people. A responsible facility will not place a dog in a group setting if he has a bite history, or exhibits fearful or aggressive behaviors around dogs. If you have a dog with aggressive tendencies towards other dogs and/or people, and are unable to find a facility that will and can safely board him, and you do not have access to a friend or family member with whom the dog is familiar and gets along, I strongly encourage you contact a local force-free trainer or behavior consultant for information regarding local dog sitters who are qualified to care for such dogs (see

An all-day free-for-all may sound like a lot of fun, but it is very stressful on a dog's body and mental wellbeing. 50

BARKS from the Guild/May 2019

© Can Stock Photo/steffstarr

Not all dogs are suited to a day care environment and may find the experience incredibly stressful; those who do enjoy it should be placed in appropriate groups, according to factors including size, general temperament, personality, energy level, play style, age, and sex status, and still get plenty of down time

Red Flags

Here, then, are my recommendations for things to keep in mind when touring and interviewing day care and boarding facilities. (Note: If an answer to any of the following questions raises red flags, pay attention to those flags. You are your dog's protector and you have an obligation to advocate for him.) #1: While on the tour, take notice of the facility's cleanliness – not just how it looks, but how it smells. If the smell of bleach or cleaning solution is noticeable, it should be just barely detectable, and because you walked into the facility during or shortly following cleaning/sanitization. There should be no "doggy smell," and no foul odors, including cigarette smoke, mildew, general funk, trash, etc. Ideally, there should be no smell at all (although, if the dryer is running, you may be able to smell fabric softener, like you would at home). A facility that overwhelms its guests with "clean" or "pretty" smells may be covering up a less than clean environment. Have you ever gotten a headache or become nauseous by a really strong smell? Dogs’ noses are extremely sensitive, and any odor or scent that we can smell is much more powerful for them and they, too, can experience very negative side effects from these odors and scents. You also should not be able to smell urine, feces or vomit. Accidents will happen, but they should be cleaned up immediately with cleaners that are appropriate for that environment. #2: Make sure the dogs you observe are placed in appropriate groups. They should not only be separated by size, but also by general temperament, individual personality, energy level, play style, age, sex status, and possibly other factors like behavioral and medical history, and any other factors as determined necessary by the staff. #3: An all-day free-for-all may sound like a lot of fun, but it is very stressful on a dog's body and mental wellbeing. An exhausted dog is

Day care is for dogs who already love being with other dogs and other people. It is not an appropriate place to try to socialize a dog who lacks age-appropriate socialization, nor is it the staff’s job to address a dog’s possible behavior issues. Not all dogs enjoy day care. prone to hyperactivity, physical injury and illness, and designated rest times and areas should be fit into every dog's schedule. Make sure your dog will be getting at least as much down time as play time. Check out the resting areas and ask how boredom is minimized during kenneling (e.g. the use of interactive food toys, soft music dedicated to keeping dogs stress-free (e.g. the Through a Dog's Ear series), soft bedding and/or blankets, one-on-one quiet time with a staff member, etc.) If crates are used for small dogs but your dog is not crate trained, ask how they will accommodate his rest breaks and overnight sleeping. #4: Make sure that there is at least one person for every 10 dogs. Depending on the size of the play area, the individual dogs, and the handler's experience and knowledge, big dog and medium dog groups should be no more than four to six dogs, and small dog groups should have no more than eight or 10 dogs. Giant and petite breeds often need their own groups. Each group should have a staff member with them at all times. Dogs typically prefer one-on-one dog play, so having smaller groups is safer and less worrisome for the dogs and the humans, who will not have to keep an eye on a large group of dogs. Small groups also prevent multiple dogs ganging up on or bullying one of their buddies. These small play groups keep all the dogs and humans safe, especially since the humans also have to keep their eyes on all the dogs' body language and vocalizations, break up play on occasion to prevent overexcitement, scoop poop, etc. #5: Plenty of boarding facilities and doggy day cares are owned and

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pet care

operated by well-intentioned folks who love dogs, but may not have a dog behavior and/or husbandry and/or welfare background. Be sure to inquire about the staff's training and qualifications. All the staff should be trained in canine communication and proper dog handling, but what sources did they acquire this education from? Ask the staff about their hands-on training experience, how they were trained, and what methods they were taught. Day care is supposed to be a fun, positive experience for dogs, so avoid any facility that uses any form of physical punishment (including but not limited to squirt bottles, leash corrections, body jabs, "alpha rolls,” whipping, hitting, spanking, etc.) or harsh verbal “commands”/audible “corrections” (including but not limited to the sound of a whip or crop, shake can, air horn, yelling, growling, etc.) (You may hear an occasional, “No," or “hey,” but it shouldn't be shouted, or used in a way that it scares the dogs, but as an interrupter to redirect a dog to something else.) If there are trainers on staff who use those techniques with their training clients, even if they don’t interact with boarding and day care clients, the staff has, essentially, let it be known that they are okay with harsh handling and may not hesitate to use them on their day care clients. n


Sherwin, N. (2016, September). The Right Environment. BARKS from the Guild (20) 39-41. Available at: Sherwin, N. (2016, November). Raising the Red Flag. BARKS from the Guild (21) 45-47. Available at: Lauri Bowen-Vaccare ABCDT is the owner of Warren, Kentuckybased Believe In Dog, LLC ( and is an honors graduate of Animal Behavior College, with a specialty in training shelter dogs. Her focus is on the dog-human team, and she specializes in reactivity, resource guarding, fearful and timid dogs, bringing outside dogs in, and outside pet dogs. She also advises and assists trainers who want to cross over to force-free training.

* Order a monthly box of dog goodies for your canine friend! * Special rates available for gifts for dog friends * A portion of proceeds from each box will go to help dogs in need The promocode can be found in the Member Area of the PPG website: /benefitinformation BARKS from the Guild/May 2019



The Power of Public Relations Niki Tudge discusses the differences between and individual value of news releases,

editorials, and advertorials for small businesses


© Can Stock Photo/kentoh

© Can Stock Photo/suemack

Public relations is an important part of the marketing mix for small businesses to drive sales

A well written, newsworthy story about your business can help with marketing in the local community

ublic relations (PR), in my opinion, is the most underused and understated tool we have access to in our marketing mix. Many small business owners seem to avoid PR, as well as the use of corresponding and complementary tools such as advertorials and news releases, which often seem to be viewed as pertinent only to large companies and organizations. But nothing could be further from the truth! There are many definitions of public relations. In 2012, the Public Relations Society of America, after much research, settled on their definition. It is my favorite as it is very simple: “Public relations is a strategic communication process that builds mutually beneficial relationships between organizations and their publics.” In this article I am going to discuss how to use the power of public relations to drive new business. An essential part of this is knowing the difference between and the individual value of news releases, editorials, and advertorials. These are all tools small business owners can use to help with their communication strategy and to support their marketing activities.

sonnel, they will distribute a news release. News releases are very objective. They are factual and to the point. They should cover the what, who, when, where and why of the news being released. As a small business owner, opportunities you have to use this tool may include: • A grand opening. • New products or services. • New class attendees who reach a specific credential. • Events. • Competitions. • Mergers. • Partnerships. News releases are a promotional tool, but they still need to be a credible news piece. When an audience reads a news release, it comes across as news, not as a promotion or self-serving document for the company publishing it. While there is never a guarantee that a news release will be picked up for publication, if it is well written, newsworthy, and submitted correctly to your local media, there is a good chance it will be picked up and published. Editors are always looking to fill space, so make their job easier by providing a well written, factual, interesting, and newsworthy piece accompanied by a high resolution photo (at least 300 dpi—and don’t forget to include the caption) and all relevant contact details. A news release only needs to be one page in length and always make sure it is relevant to the publication you are submitting it to. You can find many examples of news releases in PPG’s online News Room.

News Releases

Publicity, or "free" marketing, is the most economical, and often most effective way to promote your business. Consequently, it should be used whenever possible. News releases (aka press releases) are news stories that are written by the business and distributed to communicate its news to their marketplace. For example, when businesses launch new products, announce company mergers, or the appointment of key per-

Publicity, or "free" marketing, is the most economical, and often most effective way to promote your business. Consequently, it should be used whenever possible. 52

BARKS from the Guild/May 2019


Editorials are articles written by, unsurprisingly, editors of publications rather than by a business, a third-party agency, or a freelance writer. An editorial will express the opinions of the editor or the publishing platform. It thus represents the views of the publication itself and not any other party. Because editorials are considered opinion pieces, they are not always objective and can use language that is emotive.

News releases are a promotional tool, but they still need to be a credible news piece...While there is never a guarantee that a news release will be picked up for publication, if it is well written, newsworthy, and submitted correctly to your local media, there is a good chance it will be picked up and published. If the editorial is written by an outside source, it will carry a disclaimer, so the audience knows the piece does not reflect the publisher's official views. Be very careful if you are approached by a publication that wants you to contribute an editorial. You will probably not have any control over the finished product and whatever you say may be taken out of context or be misquoted.



As a small business owner, opportunities you have to use this tool may include: • Promotion of a new service. • Promoting a new product. • Introducing a new company location. • Promoting a new package. Ultimately, there is great value in using some the tools that fall under the PR umbrella to help market your business in your community. I highly recommend that, at a minimum, you learn how to professionally construct a news release and/or an advertorial. Once mastered, these skills will become of great value to you as an integral part of your marketing activities. n


Public Relations [Def.]. (2018). Public Relations Society of America. Available at:

Advertorials are paid advertisements that are made to look like editorials or feature articles when, in fact, they are adverts disguised as editorial content. They may provide more information than the average advert. Like editorials, advertorials express opinions, but they are written by the business concerned, or an agent of the business, such as an advertising company or a freelance copywriter. Businesses use advertorials to promote new products and services. Audiences may skim over or disregard traditional advertisements, so advertorials can be very effective in helping you make additional sales. The advertorial piece can very subtly influence the audience and communicate the benefits of purchasing your product or service. By transforming the promotional advertisement into a story, you can be more persuasive and reap a much higher return on your investment for placing an advertorial over a traditional advertisement.


DogNostics Career Center BusinesSMARTS™: Pet Professional Guild News Room:

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

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

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

For people who are serious about their dogs!

BARKS from the Guild/May 2019


We IInvite We nvite Y You ou tto oB Become ecome a PPG C Corporate orporate Partner Partner If y you ou are are aligned with our Guiding Principles. No shock shock,, No pain, No chok choke, e, physical No fear ffear, ear,, No physic ear al compulsion fforce, or orcce, No compulsion based methods methods ar are e ever ever employed employed to employ to tr ain or care car are e ffor or a train pet. p et.

you want o help If y ou w ant tto shape the ffuture uture of pett industry industry the pe Pet with the P et Professional Pr ofessional Guild enjoy numerous y numer ous and enjo benefits and discounts. disc ounts.

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For For mor more e inf information ormation please contact contact Kelly Fahey Fahey K www




Ask the Experts: Focus on Quality

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

business and marketing

Q: Most of my business is teaching classes. One of the big box stores just moved into my area, and they’re offering classes. I just looked at their class prices and they’re way lower than mine. Should I be lowering my pricing to compete? I’m worried about losing business to them.

- Annie M.

A: New competition is always a little nerve wracking, but don’t let it throw you. And definitely don’t let it dictate your business practices. The dog lovers in your area now have a choice. You want to differentiate your professional dog training classes from the classes at your local box store. Part of that differentiation is your professional credentials and experience. Part of it is likely the nature of the classes you teach. For example, you may be offering open enrollment or teaching classes focused on real life problem solving and results. It could include a smaller class size or the option of a one-on-one personalized orientation. And your prices, too, are an important part of how you distinguish yourself. Your current students don’t choose you because you’re cheap. They choose you for the kinds of reasons I’ve just enumerated. Your higher rates signal your higher quality. It would be a mistake to lower them to match the box stores. Not only would you lose income, you would lose an important point of differentiation—one that declares you as the better choice.


In addition to competing on price, box stores also compete on convenience. It’s easy to find them, easy to just sign up while you’re in shopping, and they often can offer more class start times than many small dog training class businesses. But independent training businesses, even small ones, can compete on convenience, too. If you don’t already, consider switching to open enrollment so students can jump into class as soon as they find you, with no waiting for another session to start. (Note: Be sure to use curriculum designed for open enrollment—don’t make the mistake of forcing a linear curriculum into an open enrollment class structure.) You might offer in-home personalized orientations, both to set yourself apart and to create strong convenience messaging. And be sure to make it easy to find your classes—this means stepping up your content-rich

[H]igher rates signal your higher quality. It would be a mistake to lower them to match the box stores. Not only would you lose income, you would lose an important point of differentiation — one that declares you as the better choice.

© Can Stock Photo/damedeeso

Prices are a way for small businesses to distinguish themselves from competitors

community-based marketing, and building and maintaining important referral relationships with veterinarians and others. Finally, once people find you, make it easy for them to enroll right on your website. Rather than worrying about the new competitor in your midst, embrace their arrival as an opportunity to double down on what makes you great, and an opportunity to put renewed or additional energy into the business side of your training. n

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

can help your business:

Veronica Boutelle MA Ed CTC is founder and co-president of dog*biz (, and author of How to Run Your Dog Business and co-author of Minding Your Dog Business. dog*biz offers professionally designed positive reinforcement dog training class curricula, including Open-Enrollment Puppy, Open-Enrollment Basic Manners, and short Topics classes built for retention. BARKS from the Guild/May 2019



Humane Education

Stephanie Peters discusses the educational programs she has implemented in her community

to help children understand canine communication, be respectful and empathetic around

animals, as well as learn about wider issues concerning animal welfare


© Stephanie Peters

Stephanie Peters (above) runs community programs whereby she educates children how to interact with dogs safely and respectfully

efore I became a teacher of dogs, I was always a teacher of children. I have 15 years’ teaching experience, ranging from infants to teenagers, including my current work as a humane education specialist with my own business in Ames, Iowa. What started as volunteer visitation with my therapy dog Marmalade ultimately blossomed into a career providing children with the skills and knowledge they need to interact with dogs safely, respectfully, and joyfully. I aim to create safer and happier homes for children and pets alike, whether I’m working with children in their own homes as a family-friendly dog trainer and behavior consultant or out in the community as a humane educator. I offer a range of education programs, including my Tail Waggin’ Tales early childhood story time for infants and toddlers, the Preschool Pups program for ages 3-5, and the Canine Superstars program for elementary children. These programs use age appropriate, arts-based activities to introduce children to foundational topics such as responsible pet care, dog bite prevention, and companion animal welfare. My furry sidekick Marmalade provides children with opportunities to directly observe canine body language and notice how their own behavior impacts her behavior. My silly hand puppet, Benny the Basset, often makes an appearance as well to help children learn how to approach dogs and pet them gently. Helping children to be dog-savvy is crucial to ensuring their wellbeing, as well as that of their pet dogs. During the fall I bring my Canine Superstars program to several classrooms in the rural city of Boone, Iowa, which is home to just over 12,000 residents. Even though their city is small, almost all the children who have participated in my programs there have at least one dog at home. Many children own cats or pocket pets, and some live on farm properties where they interact with cows, horses, or goats on a daily basis. Says Lincoln Elementary School teacher, Paige Cullen: “I think it is so important for children to learn how to take care of animals properly. Even if students do not have a dog at home, they will always see dogs in 56

BARKS from the Guild/May 2019

© Stephanie Peters

Peters’ therapy dog Marmalade provides children with opportunities to observe canine body language and notice how their own behavior impacts her behavior

their neighborhood or at the park. It makes me feel better, as a teacher, to provide them with knowledge to keep them safe around dogs.”

Animal Welfare

In addition, I have developed the Humane Literature: A Compass to Compassion program for middle school language arts students. The program uses humane education storybooks as a springboard to explore challenging companion animal welfare topics. Over the course of four lessons, students learn about homeless pets, breed discriminatory legislation, puppy mills, and the importance of spay and neuter. In addition to participating in hands-on activities during our sessions together, the students write a research paper and create an accompanying illustrated mini magazine on an animal topic of their choice. Compass to Compassion has been hugely successful in the classroom at Roland-Story Middle School, and I am now working to bring the program to additional schools. As part of their humane education experience, participating children in all my programs are encouraged to donate in-kind items to shelter supply drives held in the fall and spring. Children and their families collect supplies, which I then sort and deliver to a number of area shelters and rescue groups. The supply drives further children’s understanding of conscientious pet care, and enables them to actively contribute to the wellbeing of adoptable pets. On the final day of their program, the children and I go through their bin of donations. The children are extremely proud of their contributions, and even small items like old bath towels or cooking utensils make a difference. Marmalade gives her stamp of approval by sniffing and exploring all the donated items, which makes the children cackle with delight. Photos of the adoptable dogs and cats enjoying their goodies are posted to my business Facebook page for the families to see and I am proud that my Plucky Paws children’s programs lend a hand to pets in need.

Banuelos-Price...observes that Marmalade’s presence in her classroom reduces her students’ stress and anxiety levels, and that her attendance numbers are often higher on the days when Marmalade visits the classroom.

Social-Emotional Benefits

Humane programs that incorporate animal interaction have a profound capacity to help students on a personal level. Angel Banuelos-Price is a fifth grade teacher at Boone Middle School and she has enthusiastically welcomed my educational programs with Marmalade from the very beginning. She observes that Marmalade’s presence in her classroom reduces her students’ stress and anxiety levels, and that her attendance numbers are often higher on the days when Marmalade visits the classroom. Stacy Lehman of University Community Childcare in Ames also notes the social-emotional benefits to her students. “Humane education is a topic that is relevant and meaningful to our students’ lives,” she says. “Teaching awareness of and empathy for animals not only helps animals, but also teaches [students] positive values like compassion and responsibility.” Lehman believes these values taught through humane education have a cumulative effect: “Our students who are taught the messages of humane education can take what they learn to share with their parents and model behaviors to their friends, helping the message spread.” We live in a bustling, high-pressure society at a time when basic interpersonal decency often seems to be in increasingly short supply. In part because of the power of the human-animal bond, animals have an unparalleled capacity to evoke compassion and to teach us about humankind. Breely Schiltz is a first grade teacher who hosts the Canine Superstars program in her classroom at Lincoln Elementary in Boone. She believes “it goes without saying that schools should provide students with academic rigor that will prepare them to learn at high levels.” She also believes that, “in younger grades especially, it is imperative that we teach students how to grow both socially and emotionally.” Humane education offers an enjoyable, experiential method of teaching children how to advocate for human, animal, and environmental rights. If humane content is so important and so beneficial, however, why have precious few educators heard of it? Most of the humane education programs I offer throughout the year are funded by grants from The Miccio Foundation, an Iowa nonprofit created in 2001 to support companion animal welfare and education projects. All of the teachers who host me in their classrooms are eager to bring my programs to their students, but their schools may lack the necessary budget to pay for such programs. I have had the good fortune to secure funding and to partner with incredible host locations, but some schools are unresponsive or dismissive of the potential of humane programming. In my experience, the importance and value of humane education is overlooked even more so than the arts. Individuals and organizations continue to courageously advocate for animals who cannot speak for themselves, but society at large may often deem animals to be expendable. If children don’t need recess, free school lunch, afterschool programs, or arts education, it follows that they certainly don’t need to spend time during the school day learning about animal welfare. And administrators and educators are not going to champion humane education if they have never heard of it. It is my opinion that teachers and parents need to see these wonderful, life-changing programs in action in order to support their inclusion in the curriculum. According to Cullen, her kindergarteners study “a whole curriculum on social and emotional skills [and] spend a lot of time talking about our emotions, how to solve problems, and how to treat others.” The Canine Superstars program fits right into Cullen’s curriculum and she is quick to see how humane education programming can contribute to her stu-


dents’ success. I feel it is important to cultivate awareness of the field of humane education and its relevance to academic subjects and to character education in order to form connections with progressive administrators and invested teachers. Unfortunately, there is a massive dearth of research on therapy dogs and humane education, aside from a few studies that document the physiological benefits of animal interaction in medical contexts. We pet professionals and animal lovers intuitively know that therapy dog visitation and humane education are beneficial to both people and pets. We have plenty of anecdotal and qualitative evidence to back up our opinions, but solid quantitative research is needed in order to document and justify the necessity of these programs in our communities. I hope to one day contribute to such research. In our complex modern world, humane education is becoming more vital than ever. Humane education is a powerful, transformative tool, and it is through humane programming that we will inspire future generations of animal professionals, activists, volunteers, adopters, and donors. n Stephanie Peters is a KPA-CTP and CPDT-KA certified trainer and an ACDBC certified behavior consultant, who provides private, inhome pet training with specializations in behavior modification, adopted dogs, and family-friendly services via her practice, Plucky Paws ( in Ames, Iowa. As a certified humane education specialist with 15 years’ teaching experience, she uses the arts to teach children about important topics like responsible pet ownership, dog bite prevention, and companion animal welfare. She is passionate about companion animal welfare, and volunteers with adoptable dogs at the Animal Rescue League of Iowa and the PAWS program at the Iowa Correctional Institution for Women. She maintains strong ties to Best Friends Animal Sanctuary, where she completed an internship in Dogtown, is a member of several prominent professional organizations, and is involved in ongoing education.

BARKS from the Guild/May 2019



Helping Pet Families in Need

Alicia Obando details how and why she created a nonprofit to provide families with the tools,

knowledge and support needed to care for or keep their pets, with the aim of keeping more


pets in loving homes

started my professional career as a child and family therapist almost 30 years ago. Even though my career would take many twists and turns since then, there was one thing I always knew for sure. I wanted to help families in need. In 2001, I started to attend vacations twice a year at Camp Dogwood in Lake Delton, Wisconsin. Camp Dogwood offers an amazing experience where your dogs vacation with you, and you all get the opportunity to learn a host of new things and meet all kinds of dog loving people. I developed a newfound love of all things dog, which led me to quit my well-paid job and go to work at an animal shelter in the Humane Education department. This was followed by several years in administration at a specialty veterinary hospital. In both these pet care jobs, I would often see families with limited resources having to make heart-wrenching decisions to give up their pets. This was mostly due to financial hardship, but also because of a lack of pet care education and a lack of knowledge about the resources that existed in the community. By this point in my profession, I had become quite familiar and active with the pet care and rescue organizations around my city of Chicago, Illinois. I saw that there were lots of organizations helping find homes for homeless pets. This was great work done by mostly unpaid, hard-working volunteers. Even though so many of us were working towards this cause of helping homeless pets, it seemed like it would be a never ending battle. I started thinking that maybe instead of helping the animals once they became homeless, I should try to help them from becoming homeless in the first place. This required helping the families while they still owned their pets. I had once supervised a program at a social service agency called Intensive Family Preservation Services. In this program, we helped families keep their children, after a finding of neglect, by providing the family with intensive services, rather than removing the child. This was

best of Bringing the stry to the pet indu nd share a a ch t, chuckle BARKS Podcasts is the international e-radio web-casting arm of PPG, showcasing global news and views on force-free pet care. Join hosts Niki Tudge and Louise Stapleton and their special guests every month! 58

BARKS from the Guild/May 2019

Š Can Stock Photo/IvonneWierink

For many, a pet dog is an important family member; as such people are often reluctant to have to relinquish them due to a change in circumstance or limited resources

a very effective model for those families that just needed some help to go in the right direction. These were parents that loved their children and children that needed to stay with their parents, rather than be traumatized by the separation from them. This family preservation model is what I used for the nonprofit I created, Pets Are Like Family (PALF). PALF’s mission was to help Chicago pet parents have a loving, responsible relationship with their pets by providing education, resources, counseling, and referral services to keep pets with their families and decrease pet homelessness. We provided free Pet Care 101 workshops in neighborhood parks and also ran a pet care hotline where people could call with any pet care questions they had. Usually the questions were about where they could receive free pet food or low cost vet assistance, so we created a directory of these services. The website was also an educational tool full of pet care information and resources. I ran a pet pantry out of my basement and we subsidized the cost of vaccines, spay/neuter surgeries and microchips.

Home Based Care

Providing the education, the resources and the pet care referrals were all critical to helping families care for their pets, but the most important thing I think we did was the home based counseling service. As I had learned years before in social services, providing home-based care for families in need is very effective for many reasons. First of all, it is easier for the clients to attend their sessions. There’s no need to find childcare,

The pets owned by these families meant the world to them, which is why they were seeking help and willing to do what was necessary to get that help.

I started thinking that maybe instead of helping the animals once they became homeless, I should try to help them from becoming homeless in the first place. This required helping the families while they still owned their pets. secure transportation and try to get to an appointment on time. Families with limited resources often find it difficult to follow through with services because of these obstacles, so home-based counseling increased compliance. Families also felt more comfortable and less vulnerable in their own homes rather than in someone else’s office, which led to more trusting relationships. And lastly, by going into the family’s home, you get to use your own observational skills to see what the needs are. You get to see the pets, their interactions with their humans and the environment they live in with your own eyes rather than rely on what the family is telling you. Often, the family isn’t aware of what all the needs are. They may call you for pet food, but when you get there you see that the dog is obese, or has an injury, or is being treated inappropriately by a family member. Then you can provide assistance for all the needs that you see. I delivered pet food to our clients once a month, which allowed me to put my eyes on the pets and their situations regularly so I could track their progress. To be accepted into the program, the pets had to be spayed or neutered, up-to-date on their shots, and microchipped. These were all services that we paid for, so the client just had to agree to them, and they almost always did so, happily. Even though running this nonprofit organization as a volunteer outside my full-time job was very time consuming and often stressful, those home visits with our clients were what made it all worthwhile. I built relationships with these people who were so grateful that someone cared enough about them and their pets to give of their time and resources. Many of the families that we helped were Spanish speaking immigrants and they really appreciated getting this help in their own language, as I


am bilingual. Some of these special relationships lasted for years. We helped families with children, young adults with their first pet, and seniors. The pets owned by these families meant the world to them, which is why they were seeking help and willing to do what was necessary to get that help. PALF was not just about helping pets, but it was about helping people. For many, especially seniors, their pets were not just animals, but important family members. A lot of seniors live isolated lives due to finances, physical limitations, and family members that just didn’t come around much anymore. For these seniors, their pets help them not feel so alone. If they have a dog, it helps them get out into the world. No matter what, their pets let them know that they are loved, which is a basic need I believe we all share. After five years of running PALF, I closed it down at the end of 2015 as it was just too difficult for me to keep it going. It was hard to see it come to an end, but I was also so happy to see that the idea of helping families keep their pets was now being implemented in organizations all around Chicago and the country. Various organizations have started to realize that it’s not just about helping animals, but it’s also about helping people become better pet parents by educating and providing assistance and not just rushing to pass judgment and taking pets away. This is how we can help end pet homelessness, one goal we can surely all get behind. n Alicia Obando is a child and pet care educator with a Bachelor’s in early childhood education and a Master’s in counseling children and adolescents. She has worked on behalf of children and families for over 30 years and in the animal welfare arena for over 15 years, recently becoming certified as a pet loss counselor. In 2015, she started her Chicago company, Pitter Patter Parenting (, where she offers pet care, education and support to help families manage kids and pets together safely, while honoring the bond that people have with their pets. She works with families individually in their homes, and also teaches pet safety classes to children and expectant parents at various locations around the Chicagoland area.

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BARKS from the Guild/May 2019



Kindness Fosters Kindness In our ongoing series of PPG member profiles, this month BARKS features


Marie-Gabrielle Selarque of ProDog Hawaii in Kaneohe, Hawaii arie-Gabrielle Selarque CPDT-KA is the owner of Kaneohe, Hawaii-based ProDog Hawaii and has a long history of training animals. She is a certified professional dog trainer through the Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers and holds a counseling certificate from the San Francisco SPCA Dog Trainers Academy under the direction of Jean Donaldson. She is also an American Kennel Club Canine Good Citizen evaluator, a Therapy Dog Incorporated evaluator and a Tellington TTouchTM practitioner.

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

A: I got into dog training out of necessity but soon found myself passionate about communicating with nonhuman beings. My education started with Carol McPherson, a student of Ian Dunbar, and continued with Jean Donaldson, Sue Ailsby and many others through conferences, webinars and different classes. Then I discovered Tellington TTouchTM and love its gentle, mindful approach to helping and relating to animals through touches, wraps and leash exercises. Q: Tell us a little bit about your own pets.

A: Zora is my canine best friend. She is a 5-year-old golden retriever who was put up for adoption at 4 months of age because of her terrible bite habit. She became a gentle, kind, soft-mouthed dog that loves everyone. Q: Why did you become a dog trainer or pet care provider?

A: Due to some circumstances in my life I had to find a new direction. I looked at my life and saw that I had three puppies, two whippets and a white shepherd. I did not quite know what to do with them or how to train them and I needed a direction, so I called around to find a dog trainer who could help me. After trying a couple of trainers I found McPherson, who took us in and taught us the basics. After a short while, I knew this what I wanted to spend my life doing. Q: Are you a crossover trainer or have you always been a force-free trainer?

A: When I was younger I rode horses. When I reflect upon how we were taught to ride, I find it to be harsh and completely lacking in terms of a dialog between animal and human. Everything was based on performance only. When I was introduced to dog training, I completely welcomed the softer, more attentive approach of positive training.

“When I was younger I rode horses. When I reflect upon how we were taught to ride, I find it to be harsh and completely lacking in terms of a dialog between animal and human.” - Marie-Gabrielle Selarque 60

BARKS from the Guild/May 2019

© Marie-Gabrielle Selarque

The first three dogs that shaped Marie-Gabrielle Selarque’s career: Vega, Pax and Jazzy

Q: What drives you to be a force-free professional and why is it important to you?

A: I believe that animals are sentient beings and thus I want to honor and respect their feelings and mental processes. Kindness fosters kindness as violence fosters violence. You can set up strong boundaries without being brutal, dominating or unkind. Q: What is your favorite part of your job?

A: I like all aspects of my job but I love when people get the “a-ha” moment and become giddy with happiness. Q: What reward do you get out of a day's training?

A: My reward is to see two beings happy together. By the same token, my greatest heartache is to see how humans can be so distant and unwilling to see dogs as sentient beings, thus treating them with cruelty. Q: Who has most influenced your career and how?

A: This is a hard question but I would say that Jean Donaldson was the first to introduce me to the more scientific aspect of training and the psychology behind it. Then Sue Ailsby impressed me with her Levels method, as well as her kindness and humor. Finally, Linda Tellington-

Jones finished shaping me and gave me the opportunity to add her method of rebalancing the animal emotionally, physically and mentally to my toolbox. I would also like to mention Terry Ryan because she is a brilliant teacher of animals – including humans. Q: What do you consider to be your area of expertise?

A: Behavior modification.

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


trainers as possible. In the end, the new trainers will develop a style of their own. n

ProDog Hawaii ( is based in Kaneohe, Hawaii. To be featured in the BARKS Profile section, please complete this form:

HOST A WEBINAR FOR PPG! Share your knowledge and expertise!

A: My very favorite is the Meet and Melt technique used with the leash. It comes directly from TTouchTM and is the most effective, most simple way to connect with a dog. Q: How has PPG helped you to become a more complete trainer?

A: I enjoy PPG’s wide library of webinars and the continuing education available to members. Q: What advice would you give to a new trainer starting out?

A: I would say to learn with someone who knows how to introduce the basic concepts of dog training and then find a mentor who can take the student to as many one-on-one cases as possible. Then, once the new trainer has the basics, he/she should go and train with as many other

Topics may include a particular aspect of training, ethology, learning theory, behavior specifics...anything at all your fellow pet professionals would find educational. We’ll even do some practice runs with you to help you along (if you need them!) Submit your idea for a webinar to: BARKS from the Guild/May 2019


b o o k s

“All Dogs are Rescuers” Susan Nilson reviews The Rescuers: Incredible Stories of Life-Saving Dogs by Laura Greaves


ets rescuing their owners is something we hear about again and again, and while many of the tales we might come across on social media and in the popular press speak of pets metaphorically saving their owners, getting them through the darkest of times, remaining steadfastly loyal when everyone else has jumped ship, or any similar such scenario, there are also many, many tales of dogs who have quite literally saved their owners’ lives. All of these dogs play a starring role in award-winning journalist Laura Greaves’ latest work, The Rescuers: Incredible Stories of Life-Saving Dogs, which features 16 short, uplifting accounts of canine courage, empathy, intuition, inspiration, and intelligence. Many of the dogs have terrible back stories. To name just a few, there is Labrador mix Grace, who was found tied up in a warehouse and left to starve to death; Doberman Khan, who had been beaten by his previous owner; Brian the pit bull, who had not only been beaten but also thrown off a secondstory balcony and left home alone for two weeks; and Oscar the terrified poodle, whose fur was so overgrown and badly matted he couldn’t walk. There are dogs rescued from backyard breeders and dogs that were allaround recycled for a plethora of reasons and struggling with issues such as intense fear, anxiety, submissive urination, and learned helplessness. But to focus on the heart-wrenching back stories is not the point. Rather, the point is very much about how each dog overcame the worst of circumstance and the worst of starts in life to each do something truly monumental. There is Khan, who tossed his new family’s toddler away from a brown snake, the second most venomous snake in the world, after just four days in his new home and getting bitten himself in the process. Then there is Colt, the Weimaraner-Lab mix who started jumping up at his guardian and barking, up to two hours before she was about to have a seizure. This without any training and without his guardian initially understanding his behavior. He is now a fully trained seizure alert dog. There is Kabang, the Filipina street dog whose story made international headlines when she jumped at a motorcycle and knocked it over to stop it running into her family’s young daughter and her friend. Her nose and upper jaw were torn off as a result of the accident, but a vet in California was able to perform life-changing facial surgery and Kabang is now back in her home country acting a spokesdog for responsible pet guardianship. There is shepherd mix Duke, who woke his guardians to let them know their baby had stopped breathing; Leala the Staffordshire bull terrier, who alerted her guardian that his 2-year-old son was floating face down in the dam; Clove the cropped-eared pit bull, who gave his guardian the strength and support to overcome years of drug addiction; Grace, who helped her guardian get over her husband’s death; Brian, who saved his guardian from being attacked by another dog; Rhianna the French Mastiff, who saved her guardian from a violent physical assault in her own home; and Buddy the Labrador mix, who woke his guardian in time for her to save her adult special needs son and four other dogs from a house fire. We also read of Teddy, the Schnauzer-poodle mix who helped his guardian battle through chemotherapy and cancer surgery and “woke” him from a coma; Caoimhe, the Catahoula mix who helped her guardian recover from a very bad motorcycle accident (Note: unfortunately, this guardian received some very old-fashioned advice from a “behaviorist”); Abby, the red heeler who went to search for her male guardian on the beach when her female guardian had fallen down a cliff and broken her leg; and Sarge Kester, the blue heeler psychiatric support dog who wakes his army veteran guardian from nightmares, patrols the room so his


BARKS from the Guild/May 2019

guardian feels safe, reminds him to take his medication, and distracts him when he senses the onset of a panic attack. Trained in veteran specific tasks, “he chases the demons away,” says Sarge’s guardian, Steve Warwick. We read of Caesar, the Labkelpie cross tracker dog in the Australian Army who sat on his handler’s foot, allowing him to walk no further and thus saving 20 infantrymen from stepping on a landmine—despite not being trained in landmine detection. And then there is Oscar, who inspired his guardian to advocate tirelessly to keep puppies out of pet shops, ultimately leading to The Rescuers features a series of Victoria becoming the first state uplifting accounts of canine courage, empathy, intuition, inspiration, and in Australia to ban puppy farms. intelligence The tales are individually uplifting and inspiring, and affirm what many of us already know—that dogs are capable of great things. As Greaves is quick to point out in her Introduction, “all dogs are rescuers” and “all dogs are remarkable.” Indeed, writes Greaves, “dogs are rescuing us even when we don’t realise it...Dogs are superheroes in their own wonderful ways. They will save us if we let them.” Undoubtedly there are many of us who have lived with and loved a dog who would not disagree. It would be remiss not to point out here that this work contains a heavy dose of anthropomorphism, which is perhaps in itself not such a bad thing; I was reminded of Janis Bradley’s comment at PPG’s third annual summit, held in Orlando, Florida in November 2017 ( "If you must worry about a -morphism, worry about lykomorphism." Indeed, given the book’s reliance on accounts by dog guardians and, in many cases, direct quotes from the guardians themselves, there is an unfortunate smattering of references to outdated terminology more pertinent to lupine behavior, which, as we now know, has been debunked by science and rendered inappropriate and inaccurate in its application to the behavior of domestic dogs. While it’s understandable that some dog guardians still use certain words, it would have been nice to see the author grab this golden opportunity to provide an informed explanation as to why such terms are no longer valid. While this is a book directed at dog lovers rather than professional training and behavior consultants, there is, of course, much overlap between the two. “People who love animals are easy to spot,” writes Greaves. “They’re the ones who’ll go to a party and spend the whole evening crouched in a corner, playing with the host’s dog; the ones that don’t own a single item of clothing not covered in cat hair.” And who cannot relate to that? n The Rescuers: Incredible Stories of Life‐Saving Dogs Laura Greaves (2018) 302 Pages Penguin Random House Australia ISBN: 9780143787341

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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