BARKS from the Guild May 2021

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BARKS from the Guild

Issue 48 / May 2021

TRAINING The Emotions of Reactivity EQUINE Understanding Body Language

TRAINING The Zones of Resource Guarding vs. Rule Setting CASE STUDY From Reactive to Relaxed FELINE Reducing Hunting Behavior

© Can Stock Photo / damedeeso

BUSINESS Mastering a Schedule TRAINING Learning to Be Alone

A Positive Strategy: Agility and sports dog training classes from a behavioral perspective TM

f r o m t h e e d i t o r

BARKS from the Guild Published by the Pet Professional Guild 2609 N Forest Ridge Blvd #179 Hernando, FL 34442, USA Tel: +1-844-462-6473 Pet Professional Guild BARKS from the Guild BARKS on Facebook Editor-in-Chief Susan Nilson Images © Can Stock Photo (unless otherwise credited; uncredited images belong to Pet Professional Guild) Pet Professional Guild Steering Committee Daniel Antolec, Kelly Fahey, Paula Garber, Don Hanson, Kelly Lee, Judy Luther, Debra Millikan, Susan Nilson, Mary Richards, Dr. Pam Shultz, Louise Stapleton-Frappell, Niki Tudge BARKS from the Guild Published bi-monthly, BARKS from the Guild presents a collection of valuable business and technical articles as well as reviews and news stories pertinent to our industry. BARKS is the official publication of the Pet Professional Guild. Submissions BARKS encourages the submission of original written materials. Please see Submission Policy Procedures for detailed guidelines prior to sending manuscripts. Please submit all contributions to the Editor. Letters to the Editor To comment on an author’s work, or to let PPG know what topics you would like to see more of, contact the Editor via email putting BARKS in the subject line of your email. BARKS reserves the right to edit for length, grammar and clarity. Subscriptions and Distribution BARKS is a digital publication available to all subscribers free of charge. Print-on-demand copies are available to subscribers by special order. Subscribers can access all current and back issues, PDF downloads and the option to order print-on-demand copies in the Members’ Area. Subscribe here. Please contact PPG membership manager Rebekah King for all subscription and distribution-related inquiries. Advertising Please contact Kelly Fahey to obtain a copy of rates, ad specifications, format requirements and deadlines. These are also available here. Pet Professional Guild does not endorse or guarantee any products, services or vendors mentioned in BARKS, nor can it be responsible for problems with vendors or their products and services. Pet Professional Guild reserves the right to reject, at its discretion, any advertising. To be in any way affiliated with the Pet Professional Guild, all members must adhere to a strict code of conduct. Pet Professional Guild members understand force-free to mean that no pain, force or fear and no shock, choke or prong are ever employed to train or care for a pet. © All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, including photocopying, recording, or other electronic or mechanical methods, without the prior written permission of the Pet Professional Guild, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical reviews and certain other noncommercial uses permitted by copyright law. For permission requests, please email the Editor.


especting our animals’ feelings, choices, and preferences to allow them autonomy in decision­making has become more and more of a hot topic in the world of training and behavior. At PPG’s annual summit in 2018, Chi­ rag Patel said that training is “no longer something we do to animals but something we do with animals. It is a conversation. We want participation rather than compliance." (See Lecture Notes: What They Said, BARKS from the Guild, July 2018, pp. 12‐13). Dr. Karolina Westlund said something very similar in our January cover story, Reducing Fear – and the Importance of Choice (see BARKS from the Guild, January 2021, pp.14‐21): “Giving control to the animal doesn’t mean that the whole training session goes haywire. Rather, it shifts the nature of the interaction from an authoritarian focus on obedience to one centered on collaboration.” Then, in our March cover story, The Essence of a Dog: A Free Education from a Free Choice Walk (see BARKS from the Guild, March 2021, pp.12‐20) Kristi Benson explored the concept of allowing her dogs to take control of their walks and share their umwelt with her. “I wanted to see what would happen if I let the dogs take the driver’s seat, and make the choices about where we went, how fast, and why,” she wrote. Finding the experience both educational and enlightening, she vowed to give her dogs “more autonomy and freedom” from then on, realizing that, by paying attention to what the dogs paid attention to, she learned more about them. The pattern continues again this month when we revisit the topic in our cover story, A Positive Strategy on pp.14­20. This time round, author Tamsin Durston explores participation in dog sports from a behavioral perspective. This includes the importance of reading and understanding a dog’s body lan­ guage and signals to make sure we are aware of their emotional states, and to ensure they feel safe, secure, and confident (as opposed to frustrated or anxious), and not conflicted in any way. “We should consider a dog’s feelings when preparing training courses,” she explains. “For example, some dogs might feel emotionally conflicted when required to work close to spectators, especially if there are other dogs present…Some dogs might be anxious about their resources too, so being mindful of where guardians have left bags, jackets, treats and toys can also help alleviate anxiety, should anyone else move too close to these for com­ fort. We sometimes forget just how environmentally aware our dogs are, so even small, simple measures can make a real difference to the quality of our training sessions, because they help a dog feel more secure and therefore better able to learn.” A common thread here is the importance of communication, of under­ standing what animals are saying and respecting it, and empowering them to make their own choices, thereby inspiring trust, and confidence. It’s a fas­ cinating read and a great insight into the world of dog sports. Elsewhere in this issue, we continue our discussion on resource guarding vs. rule setting and explore the ‘zones’ which give us a greater insight into the behaviors, thus helping us develop the appropriate training and management strategies. We also explore the biology of canine reactivity and provide tips for managing a reactive dog, and feature the case study of a young German shepherd/Rottweiler mix who struggled with anxiety­ and pain­induced, dog­ directed aggression. Still in our Training section, we investigate options for helping dogs learn to cope with being alone, consequently preventing sepa­ ration anxiety, and examine why dogs do what they do, focusing specifically on predictive cues and the need to identify those subtle environmental trig­ gers. We also showcase some tips for preparing puppy for his first walk, in­ cluding getting him used to the harness and leash. In our Feline section we report on a recent study that found more play­ time and a meatier diet can reduce hunting behavior in cats, while our Equine section continues its examination of body language by looking more closely at body positions, features, and postures to indicate emotional state. Finally, our Business section this month digs into master scheduling and what to do when you have too much to do, and also examines how pet pro­ fessionals can learn to enjoy more success with their virtual or live training programs by implementing motivational interviewing and commitment strategies. Rounding it all out with our regular member profile and an inspir­ ing opinion piece that reminds us we are all up to the collective challenge (aka opportunity) of moving to the next level in our care and training of dogs, that’s a wrap for another month. See you next time!

n Susan Nilso

BARKS from the Guild/May 2021


contents 6

N EWS Pet Professional Accreditation Board in French, Geek Week 2021, new steering committee appointment, BARKS News Podcast, Project Trade, workshops, webinars, and podcasts







PPG’s canine representative Gizmo pens a letter to the White House dogs about training gear


PPG AND V ICTORIA S TILWELL P OSITIVELY L INK U P TO O FFER T RAINING S UPPORT TO W HITE H OUSE D OG , M A JOR PPG and Victoria Stilwell Positively extend offer to help First Dogs adapt to their new home


A P OSITIVE S TRATEGY Tamsin Durston discusses delivering agility or sports dog training classes from a behavioral perspective to ensure both dog and handler can thrive



VS .


Suzanne Clothier takes a closer look at resource guarding vs. rule setting, the zones which tell the tale, and differences in how to develop training and management strategies















Daniel Antolec explains the biology of reactivity and the need to identify the underlying emotional state driving a dog’s behavior


ALONE TRAINING Don Hanson discusses training options aimed at helping dogs learn to cope with being alone and, consequently, prevent separation anxiety





Dr. Sheryl Walker presents the case study of Gerhardt, a young German shepherd/Rottweiler mix who struggled with anxiety- and pain-induced, dog-directed aggression


P REDICTIVE D ETECTIVE W ORK Anna Bradley looks into why dogs do what they do with a focus on predictive cues and the need to identify the most subtle of environmental triggers


P UPPY ’ S F IRST WALK Sally Bradbury outlines some basic training steps to help a puppy get used to the big wide world as well as how to walk on a loose leash


P LAYING I T S AFE Andrea Carne reports on a new study that reveals how playtime and a meatier diet can reduce hunting behavior in cats


T HE C OMPLETE P ICTURE Kathie Gregory takes a detailed look at body positions, features and postures to get a better understanding of what animals are telling us via their body language







Veronica Boutelle sets out guidelines for what to do when you have too much to do





Niki Tudge explains how pet professionals can learn to enjoy more success with their virtual or live training programs





Heddie Leger realizes that we are all up to the collective challenge – or opportunity – of moving forward to the next level in our care and training of dogs


P ROFILE : R EWARDING WANTED B EHAVIOR BARKS features Lisa Hird of Dog Behaviour Clinic in Spalding, Lincolnshire, United Kingdom


BARKS from the Guild/May 2021

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n e w s PPAB Launches French Language Options


he Pet Professional Accreditation Board (PPAB) has completed trans­ lation of its study guides and instructions into French in a move that will make a force­free credential immediately accessible to French speaking canine training and behavior consultants worldwide. Two Québec, Canada­based canine training and behavior consult­ ants, Lucie Malouin and Raphaël Pépin, are behind the drive to translate the program, having undertaken and acquired their PCBC­A credential and recognized the need to help other French speaking people under­ take the same process. Malouin, of Complètement Canin, and Pépin, of Canilogique, were aware of many good trainers throughout Canada who were prevented from undertaking certification through PPAB because English was not their first language. At the same time, they were eager for there to be a greater number of well­credentialed dog trainers in Canada. PPAB is currently the only organization to provide accreditation for professionals who believe there is no place for electric shock, choke, prong, pain, fear, coercion or intimidation in dog training and behavior modification. The board also offers the only psychometrically devel­ oped, independently assessed examination for training and behavior consultants who support and practice humane and scientific methods only, as set out in its Guiding Principles. At present, PPAB operates three levels of credentials – the Level 1 Canine Training Technician (CTT­A), the Level 2 Professional Canine Trainer – Accredited (PCT­A), and the Level 3 Professional Canine Behavior Consultant – Accredited (PCBC­A). Malouin and Pépin elected to approach PPAB and set up a meeting with Debra Millikan, project lead and board member of the Pet Profes­ sional Guild (PPG), which oversees PPAB. The trio discussed the depth and scope of the task and work started immediately. Malouin and Pépin were committed to getting the job done quickly and efficiently, and their efforts have now resulted in the launch of a dedicated section, Candidats Francophones, in international French, that details each level of the credentials for French speaking training and behavior profession­ als the world over. A French language study guide is also available for each credential. “We at PPAB were very pleased that Lucie and Raphaël felt comfort­ able to ask us about this possibility, in that they each felt that PPAB is very approachable,” said Millikan. “This is something we always aim to be. We hope this translation will help spread the PPAB’s credentialing

BARKS News Now Available as a Podcast


PG is currently trialing a podcast version of BARKS News. We would love to know if this is of value to our members, so please have a listen and then take a moment to let us know what you think! Sometimes people prefer to listen rather than read, so we are trying to offer more communication options for members. Listen to BARKS News #64 / April 2021 Listen to BARKS News #63 / March 2021 Listen to BARKS News #62 / February 2021 If you prefer to read your BARKS News, you can do so in the PPG Newsroom. New editions are released on or around the 15th of every month. 6

BARKS from the Guild/May 2021

Québec, Canada­based canine training and behavior consultants Raphaël Pépin (left) and Lucie Malouin have translated the PPAB credentialing program into French

program further into Canada and also help expand it throughout Eu­ rope. I would like to thank Lucie and Raphaël for their enthusiasm, and dedication to the detailed and exacting task they undertook.” All PPAB programs have a rigorous path to completion whereby ap­ plicants are required to show in­depth knowledge and competent me­ chanical skills, supported by people coaching skills. Credentials from other certifying bodies may also be transferred to PPAB at any level, provided applicants can demonstrate that they have the correlating ethics in place, the required competency and knowledge, and the prac­ tical ability to carry out their craft. Millikan and Malouin discuss the process of becoming accredited through PPAB in more details in this BARKS Podcast. PPAB is currently operating a fee waiver that offers significant dis­ counts to applicants, available till July 31, 2021. In addition, PPG has waived its membership fees during COVID, thereby easing the path for members to cement their ethical stance by working through a PPAB cre­ dential or transferring an existing credential. Apply Today and Save on the following PPAB credentials: Canine Training Technician – All fees waived. Save $90 Professional Canine Trainer – All fees waived. Save $90 Professional Canine Behavior Consultant – All fees waived except the proctored online examination. Save $115 If you hold an existing credential and are thinking twice about re­ newing, now is the time to transfer it! Save the application fee of $50 and all other submission fees until July 31, 2021. Discount codes are available in your member area. (See also ad on p.59).

n e w s PPG Announces Geek Week 2021; Invites Proposals for Presentations


PG has announced that the second edition of its virtual event Geek Week will take place on November 13­17, 2021. Jointly hosted by PPG, Association of Pet Dog Trainers (APDT) Australia, INTODogs UK, Pet Professional Guild Australia (PPGA), and Pet Professional Guild British Isles (PPGBI), this year’s event will build on the success of the inaugural 2020 event and take on an expanded, more streamlined format. PPG has now placed a callout for potential speakers to submit their propos­ als for session topics. Special features at Geek Week 2021 will include 24 hours of presen­ tations each day, as well as two general sessions, chaired by an aca­ demic keynote speaker or skill expert, to take place at 8 a.m. and 8:30 p.m. ET each day. The schedule has been structured so it will be accessi­ ble to all time zones. On days 2, 3, and 4, the general sessions will be supported by three educational tracks, the Academic Track (The A Track), the Behavior Track (The B Track) and the Consulting Track (The C Track), that will run simul­ taneously a minimum of three hours apart. On days 1 and 5, the general sessions will be supported by several of the A, B and C tracks, a virtual cocktail party, panel discussions, and other fun activities. The A Track will be strictly science based and academic in nature. It will feature national and international academics discussing their re­ search or reviewing the current literature in their field. Each session will be scholarly in nature, breaking down a research subject, its data, find­ ings, and recommendations. The B Track, meanwhile, will be a behavior ‘how­to’ track featuring highly proficient, hands­on, mechanically skilled dog trainers who will provide a comprehensive understanding of how the presented skill should be trained and performed. Each presentation will include a breakdown of the task skills, the required criteria, the goals of the task, and the training steps to teach the skill, accompanied by explanatory videos. These sessions will provide attendees with a takeaway ‘how­to’ so that they can implement what they have learned immediately into their businesses. Finally, the C Track will cover consult­

ing, marketing, and personal growth. This track is designed to support personal development and business skills and topics may be academic, operationally focused, or related to human resources. PPG is now inviting potential presenters to submit their topic pro­ posals via the PPG website. If accepted, presenters will be notified of options for a date and time. They will also be able to participate in the marketing of their sessions via the provision of a unique marketing tool kit. "Just like last year’s event, Geek Week 2021 will present a unique, fun and educational virtual experience that will include fun­filled activi­ ties, competitions and prize­winning opportunities," said PPG president, Niki Tudge. “We have also streamlined the event by drilling down on specific ‘niches’ to ensure we can reach as broad a cross section of the pet industry as possible, with topics that will appeal to all sectors. Once again, Geek Week will create a one­stop shop where attendees can combine great quality education with the opportunity to network with professionals worldwide to share best practices and experiences.”

Sign Up to Pet Dog Ambassador for FREE – till May 19 ONLY! PPG had such a good time with its virtual April Up Your Business Game event, it has decided to extend a special discount to all attendees to join the Pet Dog Ambassador program – a discount it will also share with all PPG members! From now until May 19, 2021 only, you can become a PDA Instructor or a PDA Instructor/Assessor for FREE! You can find the code in the vendor discount programs section in the member area of the website. See also ad on p.27.

PPG Expands Steering Committee with New Appointment


PG has appointed Warwick, New York­based veterinarian Pam Shultz DVM CVA (right) to its Steering Committee with immediate effect. The appointment marks PPG’s continued commitment to promoting hu­ mane, science­based, force­free and positive reinforcement­based train­ ing methods and skill application in the fields of pet care, training and behavior consulting, an industry that is currently unregulated. PPG’s Steering Committee is tasked with driving new projects, build­ ing awareness of scientifically sound, nonaversive training methods for animals, educating both pet professionals and the pet owning public in all matters related to training, behavior consulting and pet care, and ex­ panding core membership worldwide. Dr. Shultz has been PPG’s social media coordinator for the past year, during which time she has also been assisting PPG as a proofreader on its bimonthly trade publication BARKS from the Guild. She now comes on board in a more official capacity as the organization looks to ramp up its online presence across its social media platforms and in the digital marketing space. Dr. Shultz is a 2004 graduate of Michigan State University College of Veterinary Medicine, a certified veterinary acupuncturist (CVA) and a reiki master. In addition to providing holistic pet care in a private prac­

tice setting, she has also worked and volunteered extensively with her local humane society and has been a foster mom to an array of animal teachers – from ‘bottle baby’ kittens to fearful dogs. These experiences led her to seek out resources to share with her cowork­ ers, clients and pet guardians on the benefits of force­free pet care. “Due to the importance of Dr. Shultz being up to speed on our many ongoing projects, it makes perfect sense that she Dr. Pam Shultz with Tesla takes a seat on the Steering Committee as we continue to develop our marketing and social media plans and co­ ordinate a rolling marketing program,” said PPG president, Niki Tudge. “This will ensure we have the time and resources to coordinate all our efforts across our different programs and marketing needs. As a veteri­ narian of many years’ experience who also has experience in the editing and proofreading space, Dr. Shultz, with her unique skill set, is ideally placed to help PPG in this endeavor.”

BARKS from the Guild/May 2021


Your Goals. Our Knowledge. Shared Solutions. Do you feel like you’ve already learned much of what’s available on dog behavior and training? Do you hunger for a more in depth, detailed knowledge of the science of behavior? If you answered yes to either of these questions, then Smart Dog courses are a great match for you!

Sign up for Research Bites! Our Monthly Webinar Subscription Service Research Bites is the fastest and easiest way to keep up-to-date on research on dog training and behavior! Staying current with research is critically important to being at the top of your 昀eld. It’s also fascinating and exciting to see the latest ideas and discoveries. However, 昀nding, reading, and interpreting current journal articles can be overwhelming and frustrating. Research Bites presents current research in the 昀eld of dog training and behavior in a bite-sized, manageable package. Each webinar takes you on a tour of that month’s selected research paper. We cover everything you need to know in order to interpret and apply the current, cutting edge research.

Contact us today to learn more about our upcoming courses on the science of dog behavior!

Kristina Spaulding, PhD, CAAB

n e w s PPG Names February, March Project Trade Ambassadors


ongratulations to Lee Desmarais of Zippity Do Dog Training and Be­ havior Modification LLC in Massachusetts, USA for trading discounts on force­free training services in exchange for a choke collar, two shock collars and three prong collars, and who has been named Project Trade Ambassador for February 2021. Congratulations, too, to Trista Miller of Polite Paws in Indiana, USA for exchanging one choke collar. Further congratulations go to Anastasia Tsoulia of Hug4Pets & Hug4Dogs in Thessaloniki, Greece for trading seven shock collars and two prong collars and who has been named Project Trade Ambassador for March 2021. Congratulations, too, to Jolene Harmer of Homeward Bound Behav­ ior & Training in Wisconsin, USA, who traded one shock collar, and again to Lee Desmarais of Zippity Do Dog Training and Behavior Modification LLC for trading two shock collars and one prong collar in March 2021.

Anastasia Tsoulia (left), Jolene Harmer (below right) and Lee Desmarais (below second right) collected a range of aversive training equipment under the Project Trade program in March

Lee Desmarais (above left) and Trista Miller (above, second left) collected a range of aversive training equipment under the Project Trade program in February

Project Trade is an international opt‐in advocacy program for PPG members that promotes the use of force‐free training equipment by asking pet guardians to trade choke, prong and shock collars (and any other aversive devices). Sign up today! Find out more about how Project Trade can help your business in Helping Dogs, Helping Families, BARKS from the Guild, March 2017, pp.20‐25.

- Listen on the Anchor Platform


ARKS Podcasts are available on the Anchor platform, from where you can select your preferred app to listen any time or download. Make sure you follow BARKS Podcasts on whichever app you choose so you can stay updated with new releases. In the most recent podcasts, join PPG president Niki Tudge as she chats to: Victoria Stilwell of Positively about all things "positive" (April 23, 2021). Listen here. Expert Panel from PPG’s virtual event Up Your Business Game! about sales in the pet industry (April 23, 2021). Listen here. Dr. Karolina Westlund of Illis Animal Behaviour Consulting about emo­ tional learning (April 9, 2021). Listen here. Alex Pietraszko about all the great programs offered by PPG corporate partner Animal Courses Direct (see also ad on p.41) (March 26, 2021). Listen here. Dr. Dorothy Heffernan of the Horses Under Our Skin blog about all things equine. (March 19, 2021) Listen here. Lisa and Brad Waggoner of Cold Nose College in Murphy, North Car­ olina about their dog training program, RESCUED: Saving Detainees and Dogs One Life at a Time, at the Colwell Probation and Detention Center in Blairsville, Georgia. The program focuses on the rehabilitation of de­ tainees through training their dogs using positive reinforcement training techniques (March 12, 2021). Listen here.

You can find older podcasts in the BARKS Podcasts Library and on PPG’s YouTube and Vimeo channels. If you would like to be a guest on a BARKS Podcast, please contact Louise Stapleton‐Frappell for more details.

BARKS from the Guild/May 2021


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

PPG Webinars On Demand

Getting Started with Instagram. Presented by Tracey Lee Davis Thursday, May 13, 2021 / 1 p.m. (EDT)

Listen any time!

The Benefits of Scent­Work. Presented by Dr. Robert Hewings Monday, May 17, 2021 / 2 p.m. (EDT)

Workshops Your PORTL to Shaping. Presented by Mary Hunter Saturday, April 9, 2022 ­ Sunday, April 10, 2022

Educational Summits Bringing Your New Dog Home – How to Promote a Successful Transition to Family Life! Presented by Louise Stapleton­Frappell Wednesday, May 19, 2021 / 11 a.m. (EDT) Understanding and Helping Your Reactive Dog. Presented by Shannon Riley­Coyner Tuesday, June 15, 2021 / 7 p.m. (EDT) Positive Puppy Socialization ­ in Times of Restricted Real World Interactions. Presented by Louise Stapleton­Frappell Wednesday, June 23, 2021 / 11 a.m. (EDT) Can Being a Little More Human Make a Difference? Presented by Dr. Robert Hewings Monday, July 12, 2021 / 2 p.m. (EDT)


BARKS from the Guild/May 2021

PPG Geek Week 2021 (Virtual) Saturday, November 13 ­ Wednesday, November 17, 2021 Note: All dates and times are correct at time of going to press but are subject to change. Please check PPG website for an updated list of all events, workshops and webinars, as well as discounted and on‐demand webinars. SPECIAL NOTICE: PPG is still offering a range of services to support members and their businesses during the current pandemic. These include free member webinars, Facebook Live sessions offering business and marketing advice in the PPG members’ Facebook group, virtual PPG Social events, and more. Check listings in the PPG Members' Facebook group for event dates and times. See also the Business Contingency Planning section in the Members’ Area of the PPG website.


A Letter to the First Dogs about Training Gear


PG’s canine representative Gizmo has penned a letter (this page) to the White House dogs about training gear. Rescue dogs Champ and Major have been seen sporting choke chains and Gizmo wanted to help out his fellow canines with some friendly advice on collars, harnesses – and fashion. PPG also teamed up with Victoria Stilwell Positively to offer some training support to help Champ and Major adapt to their new home (opposite page).

Hey Major and Champ! I wanted to drop you a quick note and congratulate you both on your new “digs!” It’s great watching fel­ low canines once again enjoying the lush green lawns of the peoples’ house. Your hoomans do a great job of caring for you and it’s obvious you are important members of the family. However, I did notice that you are sporting some kinda “old fashioned” collars. Those collars are sooooo “last decade,” if you know what I mean. These days, collars are pretty much only for accessorizing and hanging your bling from. Nothing else. Not for leashes and not for teth­ ers. Let me tell you why…

The Administration of Science Being the “Administration of Science,” I’m sure you know about the po­ tential risks you may be taking wearing these types of collars (and by these types of collars I mean choke, prong or shock). Doggie neck col­ lars, especially those designed to choke and prong, can cause soft tissue damage, gland problems, eye problems, strangulation, tracheal/ esophageal damage and/or neurological problems. And don’t get me started on the training fallout (that’s when us dogs start acting out be­ cause of the side effects of wearing a choke collar). Take it from me, I used to be a servant to fashion until I got a better grip on the whole sci­ ence thing. Even my hooman has given up high heels – sacrificing fash­ ion for better foot health.

Old Fashioned Methods and Equipment Choke chains and prong collars are designed to ad­ minister pain. Ouch! There are some scientific words to explain how they work but I can’t remember how to spell them (and I’ve lost my dogtionary ­ oops!). Anyway, when I was first rescued by my “forever home,” my wonderful family was new to dog training and had me wearing a choke collar. They


tried to train me using “old­fash­ ioned” methods and although I tried to explain to them that the col­ lar hurt, they just pulled on it all the more. In spite of their best inten­ tions, sometimes hoomans just don’t get it. I would bark all the scientific explana­ tions (with cita­ tions and references; I think © 2 Hounds Design I even mentioned Dr. Fauci – I’d seen him on TV and he seemed nice) like how the collar cut off my airway, squeezed my throat, caused me pain, and made my eyes bulge, but my family just didn’t seem to understand. So of course, I tried the old tourist trick of repeating my explanation a little bit louder. For some rea­ son though, they would just take me outside when I did that. They still didn’t seem to get that the collar was hurting me, so I started blaming the pain on whomever or whatever was near me at the time. I learned that they call this “fallout” or side effect.

What a Difference Science Makes! Eventually the choking and pain started to make me scared whenever someone approached me. Sometimes I would even get a bit angry be­ cause all I wanted was for them to stay away so I wouldn’t get hurt again by the collar. Yet I knew this was just the opposite of what my family wanted for me. They only ever wanted the best for me. My hoomans are awesome! So luckily they did a bit of research and learned about sci­ ence­ based, pain­free, hoomane pet care equipment and training ap­ proaches from the Pet Professional Guild (I set their bowser browser home page to so they couldn’t miss it). Wow, what a difference a little science makes! My smart hoomans learned all about the many benefits of using a harness instead of a collar.

Dog Fashion Meets Hooman Function

© 2 Hounds Design

BARKS from the Guild/May 2021

It turned out to be kind of like where dog fashion meets hooman func­ tion. I got to go on a fun outing to the pet store with my folks and choose a few harnesses. A color and style for every occasion! My fa­ vorite is my “Aloha” harness I wear to our local “yappy hour” (social dis­ tancing strictly observed, naturally – inappropriate sniffing is

advocacy discouraged). I even have one in case I am invited to your place for a so­ cially distanced play date (I can bring the treats). And harnesses are so comfortable! My hooman says mine fits me like a sports bra. I’m not sure what that is but I do know my hoomans are understanding me so much better now. The harnesses keep me safe, secure and comfortable – without any pain at all.

Looking Really Cool! Wearing a harness has really helped when I’m out on a walk, not to mention that I look really cool. Walks are less stressful and more fun for both me and my hoomans. And I don’t have to shout as much anymore. It’s a win­win!

Now I know your hoomans are kinda busy right now, so I’d love to help out! I know some really kind folks who can send each of you your very own harness. If you could just scratch me out a pee­mail with your sizes and a mailing address I will take care of the rest! Anyway, hope to see you at a “yappy hour” sometime soon. I’ll be the adorable mixed breed terrier in the Aloha harness. First biscuit is on me!


PPG and Victoria Stilwell Positively Link Up to Offer Training Support to White House Dog, Major


he Pet Professional Guild (PPG) and Victoria Stilwell Positively be­ lieve unequivocally that pet guardians both need – and deserve – to have increased access to science­based, humane education to help them make the best decisions. In doing so, they can ensure their pets get to live in safe, nurturing and stable environments. A pet’s surroundings can go a long way towards preventing behav­ ioral issues. Some pets may find stimuli such as high level activity, noise, unfamiliar people, unfamiliar equipment, and a general busyness over­ whelming or scary, especially in a new home. These can all contribute to an animal who becomes overly stimulated or emotionally aroused, which can manifest as fear. As such, the successful integration of a pet into a new home needs to be carried out very carefully. It should take into consideration each individual pet, their age, health, temperament, behavioral history, exer­ cise needs, environmental enrichment, and a number of other physical factors in the home. To help prevent behavior issues arising, pets need access to safe, quiet areas where they can relax undisturbed whenever they choose to

and for as long as they want to. Their living routines also need to be managed to prevent undesirable responses, while always providing for their well­being and sense of safety. Qualified pet professionals from both the PPG and Victoria Stilwell Positively are on hand to support the integration of First Dogs Major and Champ into their unique living environment at the White House. This will help them not only cope with all the changes in their home life, but to positively thrive. These are professionals whose work is founded on a science­based approach and ethical conduct that we are sure the First Family will find supportive, fun and effective. n

Resources Pet Professional Guild. (2021). A Letter to the First Dogs about Training Gear Pet Professional Guild. (2021). PPG and Victoria Stilwell Positively Link Up to Offer Training Support to White House Dog, Major The Oval Pawffice

BARKS from the Guild/May 2021


c o v e r

A Positive Strategy

Tamsin Durston discusses delivering agility or sports dog training classes from a behavioral perspective, to ensure optimal mutual communication and Success on the agility course means starting right at the beginning, allowing dogs the time they need to acclimatize to the training environment

environment setup so both dog and handler can thrive


s I set up my dog on the start line of an agility course, I want her to feel excited and exhilarated. At the same time, I also want her to feel relaxed within the environment and completely engaged with me, focused on my communication and maintaining our connection throughout this adventure together. In human psychology we talk about ‘flow’ as being ‘in the zone,’ i.e. giving the task at hand our full attention, oblivious to what­ ever else is happening. Flow is also what we want to achieve with our sports dogs and what effective training sets out to nurture. As an agility instructor, I believe that an understanding of dog behav­ ior can help us do just that.

Preparation is Key First things first. Aiming for success means starting right at the beginning, allowing dogs the time they need to acclimatize to the training environment. Feeling safe is vital for dogs’ well­being, so

it’s unfair to expect them to perform if we haven’t first given them the chance to learn what they need about the environment to feel secure within it – whether it be a new training space or a show­ ground. These have much potential to overload the senses and over­ whelm any dog, not to mention intimidate their guardian. Asking a dog to put in the effort required to complete an exercise when they’re not quite comfortable within the space risks making them feel emotionally conflicted. They might have the desire to work for their reinforcement, founded in our relationship with them, but simultaneously need to learn more about the environment be­ fore being able to fully commit to the learning experience. For some dogs, it might be preferable to opt for one­to­one lessons to begin with so they can build their confidence within a positive association with the environment, instructor and sport before they’re asked to cope within a class setting. Because, ultimately, it is our decision to undertake sports dog © Can Stock Photo / 3quarks


BARKS from the Guild/May 2021

c o v e r training, one question to always ask our dogs is, ‘Do you want to play this game with me, right here right now?’ and respect our dogs’ feelings and choices. Just as guardians are responsible for ensuring their dogs feel safe, instructors should feel obliged to create an environment in which guardians can thrive, where they feel confident and capable in guiding their dogs and unafraid to request greater support should training not go as hoped or planned. This means creating a space in which guardians too feel safe, empowered and able to relax and enjoy the training expe­ rience, maintaining an approachable, communicative conversation to help guardians achieve their goals for themselves and their dogs. Instructors can do much to aid guardians’ feelings of achievement and improvement, and we must remember that positive reinforcement should not just be reserved for the dog. The more confident and sup­ ported our guardians feel, the more this positive emotion will impact their dogs, so helping guardians identify successes is key.

Information Every interaction we have with our dogs, whether we achieve what we had expected or desired, or not, is helpful. It gives us information to take forward into our next training session, so we should feel as though we always benefit because we, just like our dogs, are always learning. As long as we use this information wisely, to guide future practice and not continue to repeat mistakes, then we can look at errors as a helpful part of our road to success. Instructors are key to helping guardians over­ come feelings of self­doubt and optimally applying lessons learned. At Trent Park Dog Agility Club in North London where I am an in­ structor, our beginner course includes a three­session introduction aimed at allowing dogs to acclimatize to the training environment while other classes are happening nearby. During this time, we allow the dogs to explore and sniff (on leash) and then begin to reinforce focus and en­ gagement with their guardians amid the various distractions, strength­ ening the guardian­dog relationship. Once dogs feel secure and can concentrate, we introduce valuable skills, including: • Toy­play (which could be a food­toy such as a Clam for dogs who prefer food in this setting). • Being examined by their guardians – so they’re confident being checked over in that environment, if necessary. • Having both their guardian and the instructor hold their collar, which is often helpful during training, but unless a dog learns to associate it with pleasant feelings, could put them under a great deal of pressure, unnecessarily. During this time, it’s also important to reinforce the need for appro­ priate spacing between dogs, to remove any additional pressure from being too close to anyone else. Some dogs might be worried about un­ familiar dogs being too close to them, or their things. Others might be expecting to interact with other dogs, so become frustrated now they can’t. We help guardians understand why dogs respond in different ways, based on a combination of factors, including genetic makeup, pre­ vious experiences, mood and current health, and provide guidance for different situations. Consistent spacing out right from the start means we can steadily work on calmness and confidence when gradually queu­ ing closer together, because dogs will need that skill for competing, once they’re more comfortable within the environment. We also work on recall amongst distractions, and emphasize the im­ portance of teaching dogs to wait patiently for their turn. It’s unfair to expect a dog to settle within such an arousing situation unless we’ve first helped them practice doing so, making this a highly reinforcing ac­ tivity. For the same reason, teaching a ‘switch on/switch off cue’ helps dogs clearly discriminate between times when their full attention is ex­ pected and times when they can just relax, regardless of what’s happen­ ing around them. This means a dog needn’t feel anxious or frustrated

Aiming for success means starting right at the beginning, allowing dogs the time they need to acclimatize to the training environment. Feeling safe is vital for dogs’ well-being, so it’s unfair to expect them to perform if we haven’t first given them the chance to learn what they need about the environment to feel secure within it about what is expected of them and when reinforcement is available. It’s also helpful for guardians learning to manage dogs safely, so they can ensure their dog is in a positive emotional state during training ses­ sions. This will help learning consolidate and embed into memory.

Equipment Setup We should consider a dog’s feelings when preparing training courses. For example, some dogs might feel emotionally conflicted when re­ quired to work close to spectators, especially if there are other dogs present. Factoring in spectator positioning when course designing will help reduce pressure, and with careful management we can gradually build up to dogs working with spectators a little closer as their confi­ dence grows. Some dogs might be anxious about their resources too, so being mindful of where guardians have left bags, jackets, treats and toys can also help alleviate anxiety, should anyone else move too close to these for comfort. We sometimes forget just how environmentally­aware our dogs are, so even small, simple measures can make a real difference to the quality of our training sessions, because they help a dog feel more secure and therefore better able to learn.

Warm Up, Groundwork and Cool Down Physical health, fitness and a balanced body create a strong foundation for the mind. The negative impact of pain on behavior is well­evidenced – for both guardian and dog. However, for many dogs, the desire to per­

© Can Stock Photo / herreid

Handlers should always take into consideration if their dog wants to engage in a sport at any given time and respect the dog’s feelings and choices

BARKS from the Guild/May 2021



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c o v e r Asking a dog to put in the effort required to complete an exercise when they’re not quite comfortable within the space risks making them feel emotionally conflicted. form a specific behavior with reliable strongly reinforcing outcomes is likely to override a relative amount of pain or discomfort. Our observa­ tional skills are therefore hugely important in ensuring a dog is not masking an injury, risking it worsening. Warming up provides the perfect opportunity to assess a dog’s action, while preparing all joints and mus­ cle groups for exertion and simultaneously engaging their mind. Warming up as a group allows both instructor and guardian to ob­ serve how each dog is feeling about the other dogs/people present. It also offers the opportunity to become used to any new dog present, as guardians may not realize how unsettling an unfamiliar dog can be. Groundwork exercises, like trotting poles and pivoting with front paws raised on a low platform, can aid fitness, strength and balance as well as a dog’s understanding of their body placement – all of which can help create a more calmly focused mind. These can be incorporated into beginner courses, so guardians enter their agility adventure understand­ ing how to physically and mentally prepare their dogs for the sport. Guardians can become more aware of their dogs’ bodies, natural move­ ment and limitations, and are able to work on specific areas to improve suppleness and strength. For serious competitors, a trusting, consistent relationship between guardian, vet and physiotherapist will be ex­ tremely beneficial in helping dogs reach peak condition in a healthy way, minimizing injury risk, as a tailor­made exercise program can be prescribed. As with the warmup, a cooling down period, including gentle stretching, after every training session will not only assist with physical recovery from the activity, but also signal to the dog the training session is ending. This can be helpful psychologically, especially for dogs who find the training environment particularly arousing.

© Can Stock Photo / herreid

(Above) Physical health, fitness and a balanced body create a strong foundation for the mind (Below) With dogs so expert at reading human emotional expressions, their behavior will often be influenced by how their guardian is feeling

Understanding Communications Having dogs feel good about training optimizes learning, but how do we know how they’re feeling? Dogs communicate through body postures, expressions and movements, vocalization and chemical signaling. The more practiced we are in observing our dogs, and the more we under­ stand about what different body signals mean in different contexts, the better interpreters we’ll become. As such we are better able to help our dogs feel the best they can about whatever’s happening from moment to moment. A common example is a dog who, despite understanding a verbal cue to “wait” at the start line, begins to lick their lips as their guardian moves away and then breaks position to start sniffing around on the ground. Often written off as ‘disobedience’ by guardians, who may con­ sequently display annoyance, frustration or disappointment, these be­ haviors could actually be signs that the dog is anxious. Sniffing around can be a displacement activity in response to emotional conflict – the dog is torn between the sitting still and a competing desire to move, for what could be a wide variety of reasons. Perhaps they’re too close to spectators or feel uncomfortable taking up that position if they’re sore, or perhaps they’re worried because they sense their guardian’s tension but can’t explain it. My dog once explained to me she was ever so sorry but couldn’t sit as the ground was too nettle­y, but she would stand and wait instead – which was absolutely fine by me. Another example might be a dog who barks repeatedly as their guardian guides them around a course, perhaps even grabbing hold of them or jumping up to grab their toy/treat. Again, this could be inter­ preted erroneously (and anthropomorphically) as ‘naughtiness.’ How­ ever, this kind of behavior could signify a dog who really doesn’t

© Can Stock Photo / cynoclub

BARKS from the Guild/May 2021


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It’s unfair to expect a dog to settle within such an arousing situation unless we’ve first helped them practice doing so, making this a highly reinforcing activity. © Can Stock Photo / dodovava

© Can Stock Photo / dodovava

Some dogs might be worried about unfamiliar dogs being too close to them or their things, and this should be taken into consideration in a class setting

Teaching a ‘switch on/switch off cue’ helps dogs clearly discriminate between times when their full attention is expected and times when they can just relax

understand what is expected of them so is frustrated, desperate for some clear communication and seeking reinforcement. Anxious dogs might grab at their food treats or toys with greater intensity and even nip guardian’s hands in the process, which guardians can be surprised by be­ cause ‘they’re always so gentle at home.’ This tells you this change in be­ havior is related to how the dogs feels within the training environment.

Being fully prepared to encourage a variety of handling and rein­ forcement styles across groups of individual dog­guardian partnerships means positive results are more likely. The real answer here is that with agility, or any dog sport, there’s no one­size­fits­all in training, so in­ structors benefit from a broad understanding of dog behavior and learn­ ing theory. The more proficient instructors become at reading dog communication, the better they can help guardians understand why their dogs are behaving as they are, where their behavior is associated with negative feelings, how to prevent this proactively, or how to re­ spond appropriately. In doing so, they can minimize confusion, frustra­ tion and anxiety for all.

Individuality It’s important to remember that any individual dog may perform any of the behaviors we know to be typical of canines (so, for example, you can have sighthounds that dig, or terriers and gundogs that herd). By under­ standing each individual dog’s desires and preferences, we are better able to provide reinforcement in the most meaningful way to them. This enhances the learning experience and boosts their enjoyment and mood within the training session. We shouldn’t necessarily expect dogs to behave a certain way just because of their breed as that might be­ come a barrier to us actually finding out who they really are. Rather, we can use a dog’s own individuality to create positive outcomes. For exam­ ple, some dogs might enjoy parading their toy around at the end of an exercise. Others might prefer a quick chase of a food toy in order to cap­ ture it and eat a treat from it. But are we doing our dogs a disservice if we simply impose our own chosen reinforcement approach without of­ fering different options so we can see what they would naturally choose? Living and learning with our dogs is a partnership after all, cre­ ated by each dog’s and guardian’s personal uniqueness combined.


BARKS from the Guild/May 2021

The Influence of Handling With dogs so expert at reading even our subtlest emotional expressions, their behavior will often be influenced by how their guardians are feel­ ing. We also need to be mindful of the effect of our own behavior on the way our dogs are feeling, otherwise we risk inadvertently placing them under unnecessary psychological pressure. It can help guardians to reflect on their motivation for attending sports sessions, e.g. how competitive they are and whether they’re naturally judging their own performance against others and/or their expectation of what they and their dog should be achieving. Guardians should be encouraged to focus on their unique improvement based on their own previous performance and achievement with this dog, as it’s unfair to compare themselves – or the dog – to anyone else.

c o v e r As well as creating a safe and secure learning space for guardians, encouraging them to keep training diaries, or videoing sessions so they can witness continued improvement, can be hugely helpful in minimiz­ ing guardian displays of frustration when the outcome of the training session is not what they had hoped for. These can be extremely demoti­ vating for a dog and create performance anxiety. Overt manifestations of guardian frustration such as sighing, groaning and raising hands can be really damaging for a dog’s confidence, so making guardians aware of this and helping them consistently recognize and reward effort is im­ portant in maintaining a dog’s enthusiasm for the activity. Even though we might be frustrated at ourselves, nonetheless the way guardians re­ spond when things go wrong really plays a part in how much their dogs might want to try again. Sensitive dogs might become completely with­ drawn should their guardian display disappointment for example, and reluctant to try again for fear of their guardian displaying negative emo­ tions. Instructors can help by showing empathy for how guardians are feeling, but at the same time helping them remain in the present, con­ nected to how their dogs are feeling and reminding them that there is always helpful information to be gained when things don’t turn out as we’d hoped. We can use this information for future proofing and still re­ ward dogs for their willingness and effort, helping build resilience in both guardians and dogs.

…for many dogs, the desire to perform a specific behavior with reliable strongly reinforcing outcomes is likely to override a relative amount of pain or discomfort. Our observational skills are therefore hugely important in ensuring a dog is not masking an injury, risking it worsening. our dogs to cope with settling in between runs. It’s important, then, to be able to recognize times when our dogs do require greater input from us. For example, a dog who can settle beautifully in the park, watching everyone else go about their business while having the odd treat dropped down to them, might require a steady stream of treats in the training environment due to the sheer sensory input and fast pace there. Guardians might need support with understanding that this is due to how the dog feels and not a reflection of how well they’ve taught their dog to settle. Unless they understand why this is happening, and the need for taught/deliberate generalization, guardians might become frustrated that their dogs do not seem to be able to perform behaviors that are reliable within other environments.

Knowing When to Stop Communication is Vital Whatever our motivation for training, clear, consistent communication about what is expected of our dogs and how they will gain reinforce­ ment really helps them engage cognitively and physically, optimizing the learning experience. Practicing without the dog enables guardians to get things right for themselves before trying to communicate effectively to their dogs, gaining muscle memory about where and how to position themselves, as well as how and when to mark behavior and deliver rein­ forcement in the most meaningful way. We want our dogs to LOVE what they’re doing, whether waiting still at the start line or soaring over a jump, and the mechanics of our own behavior can help bring about this love. We just need to be aware we can also create the opposite feeling too, and we owe our dogs so much more than that.

Another common training approach is to always ‘finish on a positive.’ However, when a specific exercise is found to be difficult, it might create a desire to have ‘just one more go’ to get things right. This can quickly escalate into more attempts and, consequently, pressure felt by the dog as the guardian becomes more desperate to reach their expected result.

Applying Learning Theory Learning is emotional for everyone involved, and emotions will affect the behavior of both handler and dog. For the dog, the learning experi­ ence requires problem­solving ability, the need to work out exactly how to gain access to the desired available reinforcement. There could be a myriad of possibilities, especially if the environment, including their handler, isn’t offering much in the way of guidance. Some dogs will offer behaviors that have worked in the past, some will try out something new, while others might wait for more information. Whenever rein­ forcement isn’t delivered as the dog expects, unless they have the confi­ dence to keep making an effort to gain reinforcement, and the understanding that this will be worth it, we might see frustration, demo­ tivation or complete withdrawal. We can build a dog’s confidence and resilience during training sessions through clear and consistent commu­ nication and by reinforcing effort, so they’ll maintain a desire to want to problem solve when reinforcement doesn’t happen as expected. This is also where it might help to be able to provide the dog with encouragement to keep going or try again/try something else. This means that when they do ‘get something wrong,’ rather than just reset them, we can still verbally/physically reward and reinforce effort while withholding their most desired reinforcement for ultimate success. These types of signals not only give the dog useful information that can help their confidence, but also provide guardians with something re­ hearsed to do other than display disappointment or frustration. We might also need to increase the rate at which we reinforce be­ haviors we desire, particularly when waiting for our turn and teaching

BARKS from the Guild/May 2021


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We should consider a dog’s feelings when preparing training courses. For example, some dogs might feel emotionally conflicted when required to work close to spectators, especially if there are other dogs present. © Can Stock Photo /IrinaSafonova

Dogs are extremely environmentally­aware, so even small, simple measures that take into account their emotional states can make a real difference to the quality of a training session

This can create anxiety, loss of confidence and a dog less likely to per­ form. Knowing when to stop and actually stopping – not being greedy and wanting just one more rep if our dog is smashing it – is a real skill and needs practice. It’s important to remember that every training out­ come, whether it is what we expect or not, provides valuable take­home information to make the next session even better. A positive strategy involves always planning a quick, easy win for the dog to end every training session. Incorporate something simple the dog will enjoy and can excel at, such as a flowing gridline of jumps, be­ fore moving into the cooldown activity that signifies ‘end of play.’ End every session making your dog feel like they are the ‘best dog ever,’ be­ cause, of course, they are! This is how you want them to enter and leave the training environment: utterly joyful. In summary, training sports dogs from a behavioral perspective is all about taking the time to make sure our dogs are feeling safe, secure and confident. This means watching out for how they communicate their feelings and responding appropriately, as well as communicating clearly, considerately and consistently. Solid foundation skills, including confi­ dence and resilience, for times when a guardian might communicate frustration or anxiety themselves, take longer to build than we might think. But think of these as a gift we give our dogs. As such, should we struggle later on when training more complicated movements, instead of seeing our dogs fall apart, we have established robust, solid roots that hold them up high. Our dogs give us so much pleasure, we owe it to them to do what we can so they live their best lives, always. n Tamsin Durston is a clinical animal behaviorist, dog training instructor and registered veterinary nurse. She believes in the importance of an empathetic and understanding relationship and that learning should be fun for both guardian and dog. She currently works within Dogs Trust’s Canine Behaviour and Research Team creating welfare driven, evidenced-based educational resources and materials for professionals and guardians alike. Dogs Trust is the U.K.’s largest dog welfare charity.

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Resource Guarding vs. Rule Setting: Training and Management In the second of this two-part feature, Suzanne Clothier takes a closer look at resource guarding vs. rule setting, the zones which tell the tale, and differences in how to develop training and management strategies

© Can Stock Photo / dmetsov

© Can Stock Photo / NataliaSavilova

Rule setters can be more controlled in their behavior and because their behavior is not governed by anxiety, there is confidence and deliberation in their actions

The less confident the dog feels about his ability to protect a resource, the closer he will keep that resource

n the first part of this article I explained the distinction I make be­ tween resource guarding and rule setting in canine behavior, and why this categorization influences my approach to addressing behav­ ior issues (see Resource Guarding or Rule Setting?, BARKS from the Guild, March 2021, pp. 28‐30). We can now break things down even fur­ ther.


Ownership Zone: This is the actual physical space in which the dog

Which Is Which?

Influence Zone: Where is the point where the dog is able to create a

How do we know if we’re dealing with resource guarding or rule set­ ting? For me, the answer lies in a constellation of observable behaviors which, taken together, tell the tale. I think of this as The Zones.

response in another being? How does the dog achieve this: with physi­ cality or with psychological presence?

has ownership of or control of the resource.

Defense of Possession Zone: Where is the point where the dog feels that his control of a resource may be threatened in some way? Where is defense of possession triggered?

Response Zone: Where does the dog responds to another’s physical or

Many guardians are quite puzzled when an eager-to-go dog suddenly balks about getting into a vehicle or going outside. If they have a rule setter, that dog can be creating the conflict.


BARKS from the Guild/May 2021

psychological presence? His response may be avoidance or aggression.

Resource Guarding There is an inverse relationship between a dog’s ownership zone and his defense of possession zone. The less confident the dog feels about his

training ability to protect a resource, the closer he will keep that resource. This dog will also feel that the resource is threatened from a bigger the dis­ tance. Thus, the dog may react even when a perceived threat is quite a distance away. Such dogs can usually only influence other dogs at relatively close range. Additionally, they may have to resort to dramatic displays and even physical confrontation in order to retain possession. Because anxiety is part of the picture, the less confident dogs are in­ fluenced by others from a greater distance, so the response zone may be considerable. This can surprise guardians, who often report, “No one was even near her and she just attacked!”

There is an inverse relationship between a dog’s ownership zone and his defense of possession zone. The less confident the dog feels about his ability to protect a resource, the closer he will keep that resource. contributory. A dog may be unconcerned about an individual dog or per­ son but have a very different response to others. A lack of social confi­ dence can combine with anxiety over possibly losing the resource to make for a very distressed dog. If environmental concerns are also part of the mix, it all compounds for the dog.

Rule Setting The more confident a dog is, the greater the distance at which he feels able to maintain control of a resource. One tip­off that a dog is rule set­ ting rather than resource guarding is the distance the dog is from the re­ source. If the guardian reports, “His toy was in the middle of the room and he was resting on the far side of the room. When I bent down to pick it up, he growled and charged at me.” This is in sharp contrast with the resource guarding dog who has lowered his head and neck over an object or curled himself protectively around it. The distance at which the rule setting dog will feel that resource is threatened is typically small, so others can often get quite close before the dog shows any overt signs of concern. There can be subtle signs that the dog is shifting from unconcerned to watchfulness: change in the gaze or ear orientation, small inclination of the head towards the object, even switching which hip to lay on or rolling sternal. If unaware of these shifts, people and other dogs can be unpleasantly surprised when the defense zone is finally triggered. The rule setting dogs can have large influence zones. They can be capable of influencing the behavior of others or even threatening them from a considerable distance. And they can often do it using just psy­ chological presence without needing to use overt physicality. Again, this can take both guardians and trainers unawares if they do not recognize how a confident dog can control others from surprisingly far away. All zones can shift depending on the situation. A dog at home may have one set of zones. Out of the home environment, his zones may change dramatically (for better or worse) – he may be far bolder or less confident. Knowing your dog’s zones and how they change depending on the situation will help you help know how best to handle him. Pay attention to what influences may be affecting the dog’s zones. As I mentioned before, anxiety and/or a lack of social confidence can play a big part in how the dog perceives the situation. Generally speak­ ing, anxiety sensitizes the dog to stimuli and may result in the percep­ tion of a threat where none may actually exist. Social dynamics are

Therefore What? It is beyond the scope of this article to describe the protocols that are available to address resource guarding and rule setting. But here are the key aspects that I focus on for each type of dog:

Resource Guarding: When working with this type of dog, I take care to keep uppermost in my mind that the emotional state of the dog is key. My approach emphasizes building positive associations with being approached when in possession of a resource. It is critical that the subtlest shifts be recognized and respected. Well­meaning trainers and guardians can work in slices that are far too big, so that the dog is already close to his threshold from the start. I am looking for the smallest signs that the dog is feeling pressure – shifting of weight without moving a foot, shift in gaze orientation, change in the shape of the eye, etc. An appropriate and tight feedback loop between your responses to the dog’s behavior goes a long way to establishing trust in interactions with you, lowering anxiety and keeping the dog in the Think and Learn zone.

Goals: • • •

Assess temperament – is the dog trait­anxious? State­anxious? Educate handlers in the specifics of how this individual dog expresses shifts in body language. Reduce anxiety: o Build social confidence (my Treat­Retreat program can be helpful). o Address environmental confidence. o As per veterinary behaviorist, medical intervention. o Massage or other body work if appropriate. o Adjustments in management, husbandry, enrichment and training practices. Identify sensory sensitivities or deficits which may be

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BARKS from the Guild/May 2021


training Because anxiety is part of the picture, the less confident dogs are influenced by others from a greater distance, so the response zone may be considerable. This can surprise guardians, who often report, “No one was even near her and she just attacked!”

• • • • •

contributing to anxiety. Identify any physical components (structural, functional, pain) that may be contributing to the dog’s concern. Countercondition approach to dog and resource. Countercondition touch and removal of object (always give it back!). Create management plans for situations where deliberate training is not possible. Teach: o Drop (Chirag Patel’s technique is wonderful). o Go to bed/place. o Back. o Trade.

Note: Hand feeding is frequently recommended in resource guarding protocols, sometimes including putting the dog’s food bowl in the han­ dler’s lap. This makes limited sense to me. By dog law, a bowl in your possession is your resource, and that you’re willing to share or give the dog access to it simply confirms that you – and not the dog – are in con­ trol of the resource. He does learn that you’re nice about sharing, but that does not always translate to making the dog willing to share. How­ ever, if your goal is simply to habituate the dog to be very near a person

in the presence of the food bowl, and to be comfortable with hand feeding, then this may be a useful addition to the plan.

Rule Setting: For rule setting dogs, remain aware that these dogs have the confidence and intelligence to set rules about access to resources. While I don’t typically find these dogs to be trait anxious, I do find them to be socially savvy and well aware of who they can influence and who may ignore them. This can confuse anyone stuck in the old dominance theories. There is not a rigid hierarchy but rather a social intelligence at work. In my experience, the rule setters can be more controlled in their behavior. Because their behavior is not governed by anxiety, there is confidence and deliberation in their actions. This does not mean they will not escalate their behavior dramatically to make their point if nec­ essary.

Goals: •

• •

Assess temperament. o Is the dog confident? In what ways? o How does the dog use space socially? Educate handlers in the specifics of how this individual dog expresses shifts in body language. Consider adjustments in management, husbandry, enrichment and training practices with specific consideration on the use of space. Implement Attentive Cooperation protocol (Puppy Politeness Poker – see Resources) to help both dog and handler learn to work together using real­life rewards. Identify sensory sensitivities or deficits which may be contributing.

Blending heart & science for the thinking trainer


© Can Stock Photo / jrphoto

The Ownership Zone incorporates the actual physical space in which a dog has ownership of or control of the resource

Identify any physical components (structural, functional, pain) that may be contributing to the dog’s need to set rules. • Work with the handler to be sure that the dog knows how to be right, develop specific skills as needed so dog can be right, and the importance of generous reinforcement. • Countercondition approach to resource by other dogs – deliberate setups are necessary. • Countercondition approach by people. • Countercondition touch and removal of object (always give it back!). • Management plan for situations where deliberate training is not possible. • Management plan for situations where training will not be sufficient. • Teach: o Drop (as mentioned earlier, Chirag Patel’s technique is wonderful). o Go to bed/place. o Back. o Trade. • Use of warnings and consequences such as time­out or social exclusion if necessary. Particularly in multidog situations, guardians need to become more sensitive to the use of space, how the rule setting dog can influence others even from a considerable distance, and recognize that the rule setting dog may need constant supervision.

The Behavior in Action Over the years, I have lived with animals who were resource guarders. One was an off­the­track Thoroughbred I adopted. He was a resource guarder, and felt threatened from quite a distance by even benign horses who were simply passing by to get a drink or step into the shade. He made his point with teeth, and in his first few months had put quite

© Can Stock Photo / goldution

In the Response Zone a dog will respond to another’s physical or psychological presence with either avoidance or aggression

a few marks on the other horses, though he never directed any aggres­ sion towards people. I was brushing him one day, something that he loved, and he was standing quietly and enjoying the attention. One of our barn cats walked past, and in a flash, this horse spun and lunged open mouthed with pinned ears and serious intent at the startled feline. Thankfully, the cat was faster and rocketed out of the barn unharmed. Distress to the animal and/or others makes resource guarding prob­ lematic. And this behavior certainly qualified. The horse clearly needed to be in a situation where he did not have to share resources which in­ cluded my attention. Sadly, I let him go to the appropriate home. The day he left, the other horses were clearly relieved not to have to be on guard at all times. I think I heard a big sigh of relief from the whole farm. My resource guarding Lab/Chow cross, Badger, was a work in progress for many years. He came to us at a year of age with resource guarding with people and dogs. Food topped his list, but toys and even his cat (she really was his) were also fair game. Management for him meant providing a quiet, separate place for his meals and any chew treats. That way, he and all others could be free from distress, threat and potentially dangerous interactions. But we also taught him a lot of skills, including BACK AWAY, DROP and LEAVE IT which we could use to help him exit a situation. It was a pleasure to see him learn to extricate himself from uncomfortable situa­ tions, but that was after years of working with him to develop a variety

The distance at which the rule setting dog will feel that resource is threatened is typically small, so others can often get quite close before the dog shows any overt signs of concern. There can be subtle signs that the dog is shifting from unconcerned to watchfulness.

BARKS from the Guild/May 2021


training of coping skills. Our rule setting dogs have taught me a lot about the subtle and not­ so­subtle ways a dog can influence others. One night, the coyotes began howling and all the dogs dashed out into the yard to answer them. I did­ n’t think much of it, as it was a common occurrence. But after a bit, it dawned on me that only the oldest dogs had returned to the living room and were curled up on the sofas. Where were the youngest dogs? As I headed towards the dog door, I saw our rule setter, Ruby, laying about 5 ft away from the door. She smiled at me, wagged her tail, and looked like butter might not melt in her mouth. Then she turned her head, narrowed her eyes and gave a hard stare to the young dogs stand­ ing in a nervous crowd at the door. They wanted back in, but Ruby had quietly and effectively denied them access to the house. Had I not inter­ vened, I have no idea how long she might have made them stay outside. The older dogs had just ignored her – she really did not have any influ­ ence over their behavior. But the youngsters were putty in her paws. She had other rule setting moments. If we were loading up multiple dogs into the car, we had to take care about who was loaded first. If Ruby was in the vehicle first, she proved to be quite effective at commu­ nicating to the younger dogs that getting in the car was a terrible idea and perhaps they should stay home. We quickly learned to put the more sensitive souls in first, and only then ask Ruby to get in. Many guardians are quite puzzled when an eager­to­go dog suddenly balks about getting into a vehicle or going outside. If they have a rule setter, that dog can be creating the conflict. The next time you’re called in for a “resource guarder,” have a closer look at the details. You may have an anxious resource guarder, or you may have a confident rule setter. It’s an important distinction that will guide your training plan. n

A dog at home may have one set of zones. Out of the home environment, his zones may change dramatically. Resources Clothier, S. (2017). Attentive Cooperation: Using Puppy Politeness Poker for Healthy Relationships. (n.p.) Flying Dog Press Clothier, S. (2019, December 12). Treat-Retreat Basics: Help for the Socially Shy Dog [Webinar] Clothier, S. (2021, March). Resource Guarding or Rule Setting? BARKS from the Guild (47) 28-30 Dehasse, J., Braem, M., & Schroll, S. (2003). Aggressive behaviours in dogs: a new descriptive-contextual classification. Poster presented at the IVBM (4th International Veterinary Behavioural Meeting), Caloundra, Australia, August 19, 2003. Proceedings n°352, Post-Graduate Foundation in Veterinary Science, University of Sydney, p.203-205 Jacobs, J. A., Coe, J. B., Widowski, T. M., Pearl, D. L., & Niel, L. (2018). Defining and Clarifying the Terms Canine Possessive Aggression and Resource Guarding: A Study of Expert Opinion. Frontiers in Veterinary Science 5 115 Marder, A.R., Shabelansky, A., Patronek, G.J., Dowling-Guyer, S., & Segurson D’Arpino, 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 Mohan-Gibbons, H., Weiss, E., & Slater, M. (2012). Preliminary Investigation of Food Guarding Behavior in Shelter Dogs in the United States. Animals 2(3) 331-346 Patel, C. (2010, December 14). Teaching Your Dog to "Drop" [Video File] Suzanne Clothier has been working with animals professionally since 1977. Currently based in St. Johnsville, New York, she is well respected internationally for her holistic Relationship Centered Training™ approach to dogs and the people that love them. Her background includes training, instruction, behavior modification, kennel management, temperament assessment, physical assessment and conditioning, early puppy development, class curriculum development, obedience, agility, Search and Rescue, conformation, breeding and more. Since 1991, she has taught workshops and seminars on a broad range of topics throughout the United States and internationally for a wide variety of groups from training clubs to international conferences in 11 countries. An award-winning author of multiple books and DVDs, her book, Bones Would Rain from the Sky: Deepening Our Relationships With Dogs (2002) has received widespread praise from every corner of the dog world, including twice being included in the Wall Street Journal's list of Top 5 Dog Books. She has served on the American Humane Association’s Task Force for Humane Training, the AKC Agility Advisory board, and is currently a consultant for Frankie & Andy’s Place, a senior dog sanctuary in Georgia. She has also developed multiple assessment tools CARAT™, RAT™ (Relationship Assessment Tool), as well as puppy and adult dog tests. These tools have been used by guide and service dog organizations, therapy dog groups, AAIA organizations, shelters and rescue groups, and trainers. In her work as a consultant to guide dog schools, her Enriched Puppy Protocol™ served as the structure for the updating of their puppy raising programs. Since 2007, more than 10,000 puppies have been raised in programs built around The Enriched Puppy Protocol™. Meanwhile, with fellow trainer Cindy Knowlton, she developed CCC: Connection, Cooperation & Control™, a puzzle-based program that builds joyful relationships between handlers and dogs.


BARKS from the Guild/May 2021


The Emotions of Reactivity Daniel Antolec explains the biology of reactivity and the need to identify the underlying emotional state driving a dog’s behavior, as well as providing tips to manage a reactive dog

© Daniel Antolec

A reactive behavior response includes an abrupt increase in tension and arousal, which may be manifested in repeated barking and/or lunging, a display of teeth designed to be threatening/intimidating, or various other behaviors


s a certified canine behavior consultant I enjoy working with “re­ active” dogs. Yes, I said “enjoy.” Helping a dog and their guardian overcome this common behavioral issue is truly joyful for every­ one involved.

What “Reactive” Means Reactivity refers to canine behavior whereby a dog is over aroused by something in the environment. For some dogs it may be the sight of an­ other dog. For others, it may be a child riding a bike or a jogger passing by the window. Or any number of things. The behavior response includes an abrupt increase in tension and arousal, which may be manifested in repeated barking and/or lunging, a display of teeth designed to be threatening/intimidating, or various other behaviors which guardians often perceive to be aggressive. A scientific explanation of this goes something like this: An environ­ mental stimulus triggers the hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal axis (HPA) axis whereby the amygdala and limbic system drive reactive, emotional behavior that is (usually) out of proportion to the situation. This is re­ ferred to as amygdala hijack. Reactivity is the nonscientific term for this process. The next thing to understand is the emotional motivation of the be­ havior. Behaviorists tell us that emotion underlies behavior, and that be­ havior is in the environment. A dog’s behavior is neither right or wrong; it is a response to something which appears, and when that something goes away the behavior changes back.


BARKS from the Guild/May 2021

Motivation Very often, reactive dogs are motivated by fear or frustration. Fearful dogs may display agonistic (distance­increasing) behaviors in an attempt to make the scary thing go away. Visualize a dog who perches at the front window all day long, waiting for the next scary thing to appear, such as a postal worker. The dog sees the person approaching and goes into a barking frenzy, bouncing off the window as spittle flies hither and yon. That was how one of my client’s dogs behaved, until we successfully completed a force­free training and behavior change program. The emotional motivation was fear and the dog was probably trying to make the scary postal worker go away…which the postal worker did. Indeed, it worked every time. Of course, that would have happened regardless of the dog’s behavior. But it reinforced the behavior nonetheless because departure of the person reduced pressure, so the dog then felt better. Another dog may be a young and overeager greeter who sees an­ other dog during a walk, becomes excited and rushes to say hello…but is foiled by the leash. A neuroscientist may explain that the eager greeter’s seeking system was engaged and the dog rushed forward with the ex­ pectation of playing with the other dog. With enough repetition of that process, the friendly dog may become frustrated, which can lead to anger and an emotional outburst, and some of the physical behaviors I previously described. Daily walks risk becoming an exercise in frustra­ tion for both the dog and the human handler. Most reactive dogs I have worked with fall into that category.


© Daniel Antolec

Seeking Advice People often seek advice from those they know and trust such as friends, coworkers and relatives…most of whom are probably not pro­ fessional dog trainers. The guardian may hear suggestions of using equipment to “control” the dog and thus focus on behavior, rather than the underlying emotion. Research has shown the use of aversive equipment affords no ad­ vantages over force­free methods, but does create animal welfare prob­ lems such as increased anxiety, fear or aggressive behavior. (Ziv, 2017). Such methods and equipment also fail to address the underlying moti­ vation of the behavior. I recommend consulting a modern science­based and force­free trainer. There are several well­established protocols which have proven effective in resolving reactive behavior in ways which address the un­ derlying cause, strengthen the canine­human relationship and enable dogs and guardians to enjoy their walks together. PPG has a free online search tool to help guardians find qualified dog trainers within their geographic area. Having said that, some pet

© Daniel Antolec

(Left to right) Ranger, Rocket and Pete each overcame their triggers for reactive behavior, enabling them to then enjoy calm, below threshold © Daniel Antolec leash walks

guardians may not be able to use the services of a trainer during the COVID­19 pandemic, so I will now provide some practical tips, citing ex­ amples of dogs I worked with.

Ranger The first reactive dog I worked with was a beautiful two­year­old Aus­ tralian shepherd. He was extremely fearful, reactive to many triggers and had separation anxiety. Taking him for a walk was nearly impossible for his foster family. Ranger was going to be euthanized due to his poor quality of life. He was very frightened of me at first, so earning his trust was a pri­ ority. Then I taught him some basic but useful skills: Look, Touch, and Find It. These gave me ways for us to interact and bond safely within the home, and then I had tools to use during walks to engage him in fun games when we went outside.

From Hope­less to Happy I wrote a list of every fear trigger and systematically desensitized and counterconditioned them, one by one. We also worked on Ranger’s sep­ aration anxiety, eventually resolving it. His world systematically became less threatening and more predictable. Ranger went from a doomed dog to a confident and happy­go­lucky youngster, who was successfully adopted. It took about three months of effort, so if you live with a fear­ ful dog, please be patient and stay the course. You and your dog will be richly rewarded in the end.

Rocket I had the joy of teaching this Welsh terrier as an 8­week­old puppy and watched him grow into adolescence over two years. True to his terrier heritage, every squirrel or bunny Rocket saw during a walk triggered his seeking system and a predatory response, bolting like a rocket toward his target. The family appropriately nicknamed him Rocket Man. Rocket developed poor leash manners in his teenage phase, yanking on the leash so much that his poor guardian developed sore knees and could only walk him two blocks at a time. He was a very social boy and wanted to run up to and greet every dog along the way, leading to more bolting on the leash, increasing frustration, and reactive behavior. It was easy working with Rocket since he had a solid training foun­ dation and we enjoyed a close relationship. I paid him generously with treats like beef, pork and cheese during our walks. His job was to walk beside me with a loose leash, offer frequent eye contact and to sit whenever I stopped walking. Rocket became such a great leash walker I featured him in a training video.

To Chase or Not to Chase Bunnies, squirrels and dogs were Rocket’s main triggers. I developed a habit of scanning for them during our walks and had food at the ready.

BARKS from the Guild/May 2021


training General Guidelines for Reactive Dogs •

Address the emotional motivation of the reactivity.

Instead of focusing on what you do not want your dog to do, think of all the things you do want him to do. I suggest teach­ ing your dog to make eye contact on cue, pay for close proxim­ ity, and teach an automatic sit as a default behavior when you stop moving. You will have a dog who stays within reach and pays close attention to you rather than looking for things in the environment to worry about.

Be very generous with food delivery in the beginning, develop habitual behaviors, and then reduce food delivery to a random basis. Imagine that you are a vending machine and your dog puts a coin in the slot. He expects to get his snack each time so do not disappoint him, and use especially enticing foods. Once you see your dog offering favorable behaviors habitually, switch to slot machine mode and pay him every now and then. That is the best way to maintain a behavior.

Think in terms of response prevention, rather than redirecting. If your goal is to enjoy nice walks with your dog then focus on preventing reactive outbursts by catching your dog doing the things you prefer, and let him know how much you appreciate it. If you see one of your dog’s triggers in the environment, begin engaging him while he is still calm. If you wait for your dog to engage in reactive behavior and then try to redirect him, you have missed an opportunity and enabled the unwanted behavior to be rehearsed. Behaviors which repeat grow stronger as the neural pathways deepen. Once your dog is in a reactive state he may no longer respond to training cues or take food. It is like paddling a canoe down a river, approaching a waterfall. If you wait until the canoe is tip­ ping over the edge, it is too late to redirect it to the shore. Steer your canoe to safety before the (amygdala) current takes control.

© Can Stock Photo / plysiukvv

Once a dog is in a reactive state he may no longer respond to training cues or take food

When you encounter a known stress trigger, stop and work with your dog. If he is unable to respond to you, move further away and try again. Find the sweet spot where your dog is aware of the trigger and then looks back at you. Pay him for doing so! He will learn how to cope with environmental trig­ gers as new neural pathways develop, with calmer behavioral responses.

Make every walk a fun and interesting experience for your dog. Allow him to sniff about and investigate the environment and to make choices. Doing so produces dopamine and has a calming effect.

In extreme cases a fearful dog may need the support of behav­ ioral pharmacology, in conjunction with an applied animal be­ havior analysis and training/behavior modification plan.

If Rocket saw a bunny in a yard I stopped and let Rocket watch the bunny. When he looked back at me, I paid him. We repeated this until the bunny finally went away and Rocket grew calmer over time. My favorite memory is when we walked past the corner of a house and to our left was a gathering of three squirrels and a rabbit, about 10 feet away. Rocket and the critters fixed gazes at one another, like the final shootout scene in The Good, The Bad and the Ugly. In my head I heard The Ecstasy of Gold playing and I watched Rocket as his body tensed. I wondered who was going to make the first move, expecting the critters to flee at any second. Would Rocket Man blast off in a wild terrier frenzy after the smorgasbord of prey? Nope, he turned and made eye contact with me. I paid and praised him. Rocket repeated this sequence several times and I noted his head movement slowing down as his body relaxed. Then he sat down and ca­ sually watched the critters. Seeing that, the three squirrels returned to foraging and one of them even moved closer to Rocket. The bunny was more skeptical but did not flee. Rocket had learned how to habituate to things in the environment which previously cast him into a frenzy.

in an earlier article (see Pit Bull Pete: One Dog’s Journey with Fear, BARKS from the Guild, January 2021, pp. 38‐40) but will include him here as he is such a success story. Pete is a 90­pound pittie who has a very sensitive digestive system, is alarmed by sudden noises, and had become quite reactive to other dogs during walks. The latter occurred after some unfriendly dogs had rushed up to Pete on a few occasions while he was restrained on leash and was unable to create a safe distance. Fear can create a one­time learning event, and Pete remembered things. He growled at me with the intensity of a chain saw the first few times I met him, so earning his trust was goal number one. As with Ranger, I taught some basic training skills and offered him his favorite foods. Pete’s guardians kept an Adaptil ™ collar on him at all times, used a white noise machine and an iCalmDog™ music player in the home, and closed the blinds on the living room windows. They wisely managed the environment to reduce stress triggers. Due to their work schedules they asked me to walk Pete twice each week, which I had done for six months prior to the pandemic.


Promoting Dopamine Production

One of my most joyful experiences is when a dog who is initially fearful of me becomes my friend, as was the case with Pete. I wrote about Pete

I used Pete’s walks as training sessions and worked on keeping him in a content emotional state. For management tools, I sprayed my clothes


BARKS from the Guild/May 2021

training with Adaptil™, placed my music player in a bait bag, and carried a gen­ erous supply of Pete’s favorite treats. During our walks I afforded Pete all the time he required to stop and scan the environment until he relaxed and wanted to continue walking. He also enjoyed sniffing about and I encouraged him to do so, knowing that would activate the seeking system in his brain and promote the re­ lease of dopamine. I kept his prefrontal cortex engaged with training games along the way, and paid Pete each time he looked up at me. We practiced emergency U­turns when there was nothing in the environ­ ment to trouble us, making a game of it. Plan ahead and be prepared.

DS/CC For the classical/respondent conditioning component, I immediately de­ livered food the instant I became aware of the presence of a dog in the environment. Like so many neighborhoods I work in, Pete has neighbor­ ing dogs who are themselves quite reactive and engage in barking episodes when they hear or see another dog approaching. I associated food with the audible or visual stimuli that informed Pete there was a dog in the area, developing a favorable conditioned emotional response. We typically encountered three or four people who were walking their dogs and because I was in the habit of scanning the environment, I always saw them before Pete did. That gave me the opportunity to en­ gage him in training games, including Find It. The dopamine train kept rolling down the tracks while the other dog passed by, on the opposite side of the street. At some point Pete would look at the dog, but rather than entering a state of alarm he would watch quietly and then look back at me. I praised him and paid him each time. Pete’s brain was developing new neural pathways in response to dogs encountered during a walk. This in­ vestment paid dividends when, one day, we were walking down the sidewalk toward an intersection. I slowed down in order to look down the intersecting street. Sure enough, there was a lady walking her dog in our direction. Pete saw the dog and I began working with him. Then something unexpected happened. Two houses past the lady I saw a black dog burst out the front door of a house. He shot to the sidewalk, saw the lady and sprinted toward her dog, jumping on him repeatedly. All the while I heard a woman’s voice in the distance shouting, “Toby! Toby! Toby come here!” But Toby was not listening. He was too busy mobbing the other dog. Had that happened to Pete we would have had a true emergency, but we had paused about 200 feet away, calmly made a U­turn and gone the other way. Pete walked beside me, looking over his shoulder repeatedly at the fracas behind us. In the six months that I walked Pete, he never went over threshold, and his guardians have since reported the same success during their walks with him.

Success Ranger, Rocket and Pete are all great success stories and are just three out of the many reactive dogs I have watched blossom under the right guidance. n

References Ziv, G. (2017). The effects of using aversive training methods in dogs – a review. Journal of Veterinary Behaviour 19:50-60

Resources Antolec, D. (2021, January). Pit Bull Pete: One Dog’s Journey with Fear. BARKS from the Guild (46) 38-40 Pet Professional Guild: Zip Code Search Daniel H. Antolec CPT-A CPDT-KA is the owner of Happy Buddha Dog Training in Brooklyn, Wisconsin. He also co-chairs the Pet Professional Guild Advocacy Committee and is a member of PPG’s steering committee.

BARKS from the Guild/May 2021



Alone Training Don Hanson discusses training options aimed at helping dogs learn to cope with being alone and, consequently, prevent separation anxiety


ogs are social animals, and most will ac­ tively seek out our companionship. They can quickly become accustomed to hav­ ing their people around all the time (especially during these pandemic times when many of us are spending more time at home than usual), but this is not a necessarily good thing if they will need to spend some time on their own at some stage. And as much as we might want to believe we will always be with our dogs all the time, that sce­ nario is improbable. Whenever a new dog is brought into a home, es­ pecially a playful puppy, people tend to interact with them constantly. This interaction is an essential part of socialization and bonding. Because it is so enjoyable for both the people and the puppy, they interact often. As we know, behavior that is rewarded will be repeated so if all parties are enjoying the interaction – which is pretty standard in this case – then they are both being re­ warded. It’s important for puppy guardians to make sure they are not setting up their puppy for a big disappoint­ ment – not to mention a stressful or frightening ex­ perience – when they must eventually leave him

home alone. As such, including some “alone training” right from the start is of enormous benefit to both puppy and guardian. Older dogs, depending on their previous cir­ cumstances, might also need to learn how to cope with being alone. For example, dogs who were housed in a shelter or kennel situation where other dogs and people were always around may have trouble coping with being by themselves. Senior dogs who have dealt with being alone just fine in the past may start to become anxious when their guardians leave. Dogs that have not learned to cope with being alone can become frightened. Their anx­ iety may trigger them to exhibit extreme vo­ calizations and/or destructive behavior. Such dogs may be diagnosed by a veterinarian or veterinary behaviorist with separation anxi­ ety. Separation anxiety will not resolve on its Dogs that have not learned to cope with being alone can become anxious or fearful when they are suddenly left on their own © Can Stock Photo / adogslifephoto

Teaching Puppy to Cope with Being Alone


f you have not already done so, start leaving your puppy/dog alone for brief durations throughout the day. He needs to learn that: 1) People are not always around. 2) That you will come back. You may be surprised to learn that your puppy eventually dis­ covers crate time is perfect for some much­needed napping! Here are the steps involved in alone training: • Place your puppy’s crate in a part of the house where you can still hear him, but where he will not be disturbed by family members or other pets in the house. • Take your puppy out to go to the bathroom immediately before putting him in the crate. That way, if he immedi­ ately starts to whine, it is not because he needs to urinate or defecate. • Provide your puppy with a safe toy, such as a Kong stuffed with a small portion of his kibble, to keep him occupied while in the crate. • Do not make a big deal out of leaving. Just pop the puppy in his crate and leave the room. He may start to whine or bark when you leave. Such vocalization is normal for a puppy that has not yet learned to cope with being left alone. Your first impulse may be to return and try to calm him. However, that would be counterproductive. Make sure you do not reward him for whining, so try not to pay attention to him while he's vocalizing and do not let him


BARKS from the Guild/May 2021

• •

out of the crate until there is a lull in the whining. Reward him for being calm and quiet. The first time you leave your puppy alone, wait for him to be quiet for at least five minutes before you let him out of the crate. When returning to your puppy, be very low­key and non­ emotional. If you make leaving or returning into too big of a deal, with lots of cuddling and petting, your puppy is more likely to be stressed by your arrivals and departures. As always, when letting your puppy out of his crate, take him outside to see if he needs to go to the bathroom. Practice the above steps at least once a day for several days. You will gradually increase the length of time your puppy can be left alone. Like all training, we want to work in small achievable increments that the dog can handle. If your dog/puppy is not housetrained, you will still need to take him out for bathroom breaks. Do not worry about him not getting enough exercise. On average, a dog sleeps 17 hours per day (although, of course, no dog should be crated or left alone for 17 consecutive hours a day!). You will have plenty of time to give the puppy exercise and to interact with him during the remainder of the day. Your goal is to eventually to be able to leave your adult dog alone in your home, without you worrying about him be­ coming anxious or destructive. The more youwork on this while your dog is young, the quicker you will get there.

training Dogs are social animals, and most will actively seek out our companionship. They can quickly become accustomed to having their people around all the time own and typically requires a behavior modification program and possi­ bly medication too. The goal of alone training is to prevent this from oc­ curring.

Separation Anxiety If your puppy/dog starts to whine or bark when you leave home, this is quite normal. Your first impulse may be to return to try to calm him. This would be counterproductive, however (see box on opposite page). Leaving your puppy/dog at home, at the veterinarian, at the groomer, or a boarding kennel should be a very low­key, nonemotional event. Like­ wise, the same applies when returning to your pet. If you make leaving or returning into a big deal with lots of attention, cuddling and petting, he may be more likely to view your arrivals and departures as stressful events. Start your alone training by building time slowly. Five to 10 minutes is a good place to start if your dog has never been out of your sight or away from you for that length of time. Like all training, we want to work in small, achievable increments that the dog can handle. Continue leaving your puppy/dog alone for longer and longer periods of time and try to avoid going beyond his threshold. It’s important not to rush the process. If your dog already exhibits destructive behaviors such as digging, scratching or chewing on himself, house soiling, destruction of objects, extreme vocalization, constant pacing, digging and scratching at exits such as doors and windows in an attempt to reach you, and following

you excessively, never letting you out of sight, then you should immedi­ ately reach out to your force­free training and behavior consultant as well as discuss this situation with the dog’s veterinarian. Such behaviors may be symptoms of separation anxiety and may require treatment with appropriate medications and a behavior modification program spe­ cific to the disorder. Resolving separation anxiety will typically involve changes in your family’s behavior in addition to your dog’s. It is typically not an easy problem to resolve and can become more difficult to resolve the longer it goes on. This is why teaching your dog to cope with being alone is an excellent investment of your time. n

Resources DeMartini, M. (2017). Why and How Dogs Develop Separation Anxiety Green Acres Kennel Shop. (2017). Separation Anxiety with Dr. David Cloutier from Veazie Veterinary Clinic [Podcast] Hayward, T. (2016, May). Home Alone: The Painful Puzzle. BARKS from the Guild (18) 14-19. Hayward, T. (2017). Separation Anxiety: When Alone Time Makes Your Puppy Panic Naismith, J. (2017). Partying or panicking? How to be a separation anxiety sleuth. BARKS Blog Don Hanson is the co-owner of the Green Acres Kennel Shop in Bangor, Maine. He is a Bach Foundation registered animal practitioner (BFRAP), certified dog behavior consultant (CDBC), associate certified cat behavior consultant (ACCBC) and a certified professional dog trainer (CPDT-KA) and also produces and co-hosts a weekly radio show and podcast, The Woof Meow Show on The Pulse AM620 WZON. He writes about pets on his blog and is co-chairman of PPG’s Advocacy Committee.

case study

From Reactive to Relaxed Dr. Sheryl L. Walker presents the case study of Gerhardt, a young German shepherd/ Rottweiler mix who struggled with anxiety- and pain-induced, dog-directed aggression

Young German shepherd/ Rottweiler mix Gerhardt reported with approximately six bite events at the initial behavior consult (Stock Image)

© Can Stock Photo / dragon_fang


f all my years studying animal behavior and consulting with indi­ vidual clients and animal shelters, there was one case in particu­ lar that stood out, partly because it featured two incredibly dedicated guardians. Ironically, it was also one of my most complex cases. It was a case of canine anxiety­ and pain­induced dog­directed ag­ gression involving a young neutered male German shepherd/Rottweiler mix named Gerhardt who had approximately six bite events between August 2009 and November 2012, beginning when he was approxi­ mately 7 months old. The environmental trigger, initially, seemed to be mealtimes, during which Gerhardt’s guardians Lynn and Lee* fed Gerhardt out of a metal bowl. However, upon further investigation, another environmental trig­ ger was identified as Gerhardt being in close proximity to other dogs.

Gerhardt’s guardians were instructed that while on walks, if Gerhardt heard or saw another dog, they would click then treat. If Gerhardt’s body language seemed relaxed, they would continue on their walk. But if his body language seemed tense, they would then turn around and walk back home.


BARKS from the Guild/May 2021

History Lynn and Lee adopted Gerhardt from a shelter at the age of 8 weeks. He and his litter of four siblings were fostered from the age of 4 weeks, when they were found in an abandoned home in January 2009. Re­ search shows that that removing puppies from their moms too young can be detrimental to their behavioral development (Battaglia, 2009; Pierantoni et al., 2011; Plujimakers et al., 2006; Slabbert and Rasa, 1993). This has also been shown in other species, such as mice and rats (Ito et al., 2006; Kikusui et al., 2004). Lynn and Lee took Gerhardt to puppy training classes starting when he was 12 weeks old. They also took him to weekly puppy playgroups and socialized him with people, other dogs, and new environments. Ide­ ally, these experiences can set the foundation of a behaviorally sound dog (De Meester et al., 2005; Foyer et al., 2013; Howell et al., 2015). Gerhardt had a history of either one or more symptoms of allergies when he was younger, including severe itching/licking, vomiting, and/or diarrhea. When he was 6 or 7 months old, he had large patches of hair loss on both lateral sides due to constant licking. This lasted for a month, then the hair reappeared with no treatment and grew back nor­ mally. His guardians attributed these behaviors to a sensitive stomach and worked through several different brands of dry dog food to elimi­ nate the problem. However, such symptoms can also be indicative of anxiety (Camps et al., 2019; Dreschel, 2010).

Dog guardians often report that their dogs have bitten “without any warning” (Reisner, 2014). Indeed, while some dogs show very clear signs that they are uncomfortable with a situation, others give much more subtle behavioral cues indicating their discomfort, and sometimes guardians are unable to recognize those subtle changes. The first bite event happened in August 2009, when Lynn and Lee took Gerhardt to visit a family member. During mealtime, Gerhardt was eating from a metal bowl in the kitchen and the family member’s dog (an Australian kelpie named Rosie) snuck up behind him with the inten­ tion of stealing the food. Gerhardt whipped around and air snapped with no contact (Level 1) (Yin, 2012). Lynn and Lee moved residences in June 2010. Lynn relocated first and, due to work constraints, Lee moved 11 months later. During those 11 months, Gerhardt lived with Lynn but spent occasional weekend re­ treats with Lee. The original residence was moderately sized (1,275 sq. ft., three bedrooms, two full bathrooms), and was well­suited for two humans and a puppy. There was no fenced­in yard, so Lee walked him at least three times a day around the neighborhood. They had downsized during their move, into a 1,000­ sq. ft. town­ house with two bedrooms/bathrooms. There was a fenced­in yard that enclosed both units of the duplex. The attached neighbor had a young, unneutered male boxer who was very people­ and dog­friendly. When Lynn lived by herself, she would take Gerhardt to the local off­leash dog park a few times a week for social time with other dogs and physical ex­ ercise. The second bite event happened in September 2010, during one of the previously mentioned weekend retreats. Lee worked at a local school and took Gerhardt to work with him for a few hours. A coworker entered Lee’s office unannounced, along with her 1­year­old neutered mastiff Brutus, who she had brought to work that day. Gerhardt, who had been calmly chewing on his rawhide, attacked Brutus with a bite wound near his eye (Level 3) (Yin 2012).

Excitable When Lee moved to be with Lynn, they started to notice a difference in Gerhardt’s behavior. He was super excitable when they both came home. They would take him outside right after they arrived, ignore him for several minutes till he was calm enough to greet. If they let him out­ side and closed the door to take their shoes and coats off, he would jump and paw at the sliding glass door with a high­pitched bark. The third bite event happened in March 2012. It occurred at their house when they were dog sitting for a friend. The guest dog was a 3½­ year­old intact male beagle named Buddy. Lee fed both dogs in the same room and Gerhardt attacked Buddy when he got too close to the food bowl (Level 2). The fourth bite event happened in September 2012, again at Lynn and Lee’s house when dog sitting for another friend. One of the dogs was a 5­year­old neutered male beagle/basset hound mix named Yoshi. The other dog was a 6­month­old intact female Labrador retriever/Ital­ ian greyhound mix named Salem, who was very nonconfrontational. Ini­ tially, Gerhardt’s guardians had him in the kitchen with a baby gate separating him from the living room. Their friend then brought Yoshi and Salem into the house and the dogs greeted each other through the baby gate for about 10 minutes. Lynn and Lee then opened the baby gate and the dogs got along fine. A little later, Lynn was walking through a small hallway with Gerhardt and Yoshi on either side of her. At this time, Gerhardt attacked Yoshi, which resulted in two puncture wounds:

News from The ISCP The pandemic has changed all our lives in ways that we could never have imagined. The true cost of the economic impact of the pandemic is not yet known, but it will affect our world for decades to come. From lockdown restrictions shutting down many businesses to limits on mobility, voluntary and enforced, the economic impact has been severe. With the drop in earnings, some households will be struggling to find the money to pay for pet food and veterinary costs. Lockdown puppies have now reached adolescence, and, for many, things have not turned out well. Some have already been relinquished to rescue or sold on to other families. Some of these dogs will have developed serious behaviour problems. We recognise the potential additional burden on rescues and charities as people begin to return to work. As an education provider we have always tried to support rescue and dog related charity volunteers and staff by offering our level 5 ISCP Diploma in Canine Behaviour course fee at a 50% discount of the price. We also recognise that Veterinary Clinics and their staff have worked hard to ensure our pets’ health has received the same standard of care that we have been used to, and that this has placed an additional burden on Veterinary staff. With this in mind, we have decided to extend our 50% discount on our Diploma in Canine Behaviour to all veterinary staff from now on.

behaviour behaviour

case study one on his ear and one on his muzzle (Level 3) (Yin, 2012). Lynn pulled Gerhardt off Yoshi and took him outside and closed the door. While she was tending to Yoshi’s wounds, Gerhardt was barking a high­pitched bark while obsessively pawing on the sliding glass door. The fifth bite event happened in November 2012. Lynn and Lee had brought him to daycare/boarding overnight. A staff member said that after an hour of outside time, Gerhardt was waiting by the door to go inside. When the door opened, apparently another dog was standing there and Gerhardt attacked him, inflicting a bite wound (Level 3) (Yin, 2012). The staff used a horn and squirt bottle to interrupt the attack, and kept Gerhardt in his kennel for the rest of his stay, away from other dogs. The sixth bite event happened three weeks later. Lynn and Lee’s family were visiting with their two dogs: Rosie the Australian kelpie mentioned in the first bite incident (who was now 10 years old), and a 2­year­old neutered male hound mix named Jack. Lynn and Lee had Ger­ hardt in the kitchen behind a baby gate when everyone arrived. He barked with his hackles up, but quickly became calm and wiggly when greeting the family members. After 10 minutes, the family members brought Rosie and Jack into the fenced­in back yard to explore. After another 10 minutes, Lynn and Lee brought Gerhardt outside, on leash, to the outside of the fence, so there was a barrier between him and the guest dogs. The dogs sniffed each other and Gerhardt play bowed, so they decided to let him into the fenced­in area. His interac­ tions with the two other dogs were relatively calm at that time. Ger­ hardt and Jack exchanged growls once, but Lynn and Lee redirected Gerhardt, which diffused the situation. After dinner, their family mem­ bers brought in their luggage and asked the dogs to move, at which point Gerhardt attacked Rosie, inflicting a wound on her right leg (Level 3) (Yin, 2012).

Initial Consultation It was after this latest incident that Lynn and Lee contacted me. At the time of consultation, Gerhardt was 3½ years old and weighed 93 pounds. He was cautious with strangers inside and outside the home, and Lynn and Lee reported having a wonderful relationship with him, in spite of the stress that he caused them. He was in excellent physical health, and displayed overt body language signals during the consulta­ tion, including panting, pacing, huffing, and whining that were indicative of conflict and anxiety (Luescher & Reisner, 2008; Tiira et al., 2016; Salo­ nen et al., 2020). The consultation included an in­depth behavior history form which served as the foundation of discussion. By coincidence, the neighbor's dog, a young, intact boxer named Joe was in the yard and at the sliding glass door while Lynn was feeding Gerhardt treats. His body stiffened, his hackles raised, and he growled at Joe. Lynn walked in between the two dogs to try to distract Gerhardt and he air snapped toward her, making no contact (Level 1) (Yin, 2012), a classic example of redirected aggression (Wilde, 2015).

This case was extremely emotionally charged for all stakeholders involved: Gerhardt, Lynn and Lee, their visitors, their guest dogs, and the professionals who collaborated on the case. Chronic anxiety can absolutely disrupt the human-animal bond, and this dog was very lucky to have his humans so invested in his behavioral welfare. Dog guardians often report that their dogs have bitten “without any warning” (Reisner, 2014). Indeed, while some dogs show very clear signs that they are uncomfortable with a situation, others give much more subtle behavioral cues indicating their discomfort, and sometimes guardians are unable to recognize those subtle changes. Although Ger­ hardt was quick to escalate in this instance, his body language was very clear (e.g., hackles up, tail up, head tall) (Chin, 2020). He also had a “Highly Sensitive” personality type (Braem et al., 2017; Dube et al., 2020). When his anxiety was high and other dogs didn’t immediately lis­ ten to his communication, he would escalate to the next behavior to communicate that he needed space: air snapping or biting. With his also being sensitive to trigger stacking (Henley, 2019), Gerhardt’s anxiety was impairing his ability to function in a human world.

Behavior Modification Plan A. Environmental Management and Enrichment The frequency of the bite incidences and history of wounds justified my recommendation that Gerhardt see a veterinary behaviorist for possible anxiolytic intervention. An environmental management plan was sug­ gested to begin immediately, so future problems could be avoided prior to the consultation with the veterinary behaviorist. Lynn and Lee were instructed to no longer feed Gerhardt in the kitchen or from a bowl, and instead use food puzzles or his regular food as treats while training. They were also instructed to have absolutely no dog visitors or interac­ tions with other dogs until they had seen the veterinary behaviorist. To provide environmental enrichment, it was suggested that they take Ger­ hardt on walks at least twice a day for at least 20 minutes each time, during low neighborhood traffic times.

B. Observing and Decoding Dog Body Language Dog communication is much more complicated than many people think (e.g., tail wagging doesn’t necessarily mean a happy dog). Gerhardt’s guardians were advised to purchase Barbara Handelman’s book Canine Behavior so that visual depictions of dog body language could help them better interpret precursors to anxious behaviors.

C. Relax on Bed Because high arousal states are a catalyst for anxiety­based aggression,

Member Profiles Case Studies

BARKS from the Guild/May 2021


case study Lynn and Lee were taught how to train Gerhardt to relax on a dog bed. This helped keep his arousal state at a comfortable level as the parasym­ pathetic nervous system tells the body that it’s “okay” to relax. A basic introduction to clicker training helped teach Lynn and Lee how to cap­ ture and reinforce calming behaviors, such as when Gerhardt laid down on his dog bed, deep sighed, or placed his head down on the bed.

D. Counterconditioning Counterconditioning works well as a tool to change a dog’s emotional responses to environmental stimuli. Predictability decreases conflict anxiety (i.e., people are interesting, yet scary; the dog park is so much fun, yet too overwhelming) because the animal has more control over his environment. However, caution must be taken in order to ensure the dog doesn’t form an association with environmental stimuli that always occur prior to the anxiety­eliciting stimuli. For example, Gerhardt’s guardians only put him behind a baby gate whenever visitors would be entering the home, so he formed a pretty solid association of the baby gate being a predictor of something negative happening. The Look at That game was developed by Leslie McDevitt for reac­ tive dogs. The concept of the game is that dog guardians would click for the behavior of looking at something scary/frightening/arousal­provok­ ing while being under “threshold” of reactivity, and immediately give their dog a high­value treat. Gerhardt’s guardians were instructed that while on walks, if Gerhardt heard or saw another dog, they would click then treat. If Gerhardt’s body language seemed relaxed, they would continue on their walk. But if his body language seemed tense, they would then turn around and walk back home. The goal was to start changing the emotions associated with other dogs from anxiety­provok­ ing to calm and relaxed (i.e., conditioned emotional responses). © Gerhardt’s Guardians

As Gerhardt’s anxiety and high arousal levels were antecedents for the attacks, emphasis was placed on decreasing anxiety and environmental triggers

Follow­Up Lynn and Lee brought Gerhardt to see a veterinary behaviorist in Janu­ ary 2013 and a copy of the environmental/behavioral management

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BARKS from the Guild/May 2021

case study plans were provided at that time. As Gerhardt’s anxiety and high arousal levels were antecedents for the attacks, emphasis was placed on de­ creasing anxiety and environmental triggers. The veterinary behaviorist prescribed Reconcile (e.g., Fluoxetine), which is a selective serotonin re­ uptake inhibitor (SSRI) (Ibanez & Anzola, 2009). As psychoactive drugs can take several weeks to take full effect, the next consultation was scheduled six weeks after the Reconcile was started. Lynn and Lee reported seeing improvements in Gerhardt’s anxi­ ety levels, as well as improvements in his engagement with them, i.e. without hyperexcitability. Additionally, they were taught the basic fun­ damentals of how to introduce Gerhardt to a basket muzzle. During a six­month follow­up consultation, Gerhardt’s guardians mentioned that it seemed as if the Fluoxetine had stopped working. Meanwhile, Gerhardt now had a diagnosis of mild to moderate hip dys­ plasia, spinal disc disease, and arthritis, confirmed with X­rays. The anxi­ ety­induced aggression may have had a pain component all along. Lynn and Lee took Gerhardt to see the veterinary behaviorist again, and he was prescribed Deramaxx to help with the pain. The anxiolytic was changed from Fluoxetine to Gabapentin. The next consultation was three weeks after Deramaxx and Gabapentin had been started. Lynn and Lee reported being elated with great improvements in Gerhardt’s anxiety levels, as well as “having their dog back.” His personality was yet again goofy and playful, he was able to settle on his dog bed whenever the cue “bed” was said. In addition, Lynn and Lee seemed more at ease during the consultation.

Discussion Gerhardt’s guardians were extremely dedicated to their dog, and were

References Battaglia, C.L. (2009). Periods of early development and the effects of stimulation and social experiences in the canine. Journal of Veterinary Behavior 4 203-210 Braem, M., Asher, L., Furrer, S., Lechner, I., Wurbel, H., & Melotti, L. (2017). Development of the “Highly Sensitive Dog” questionnaire to evaluate the personality dimension “Sensory Processing Sensitivity” in dogs. PLoS One 12(5) Camps, T., Amat, M.,& Manteca, X. (2019). A review of medical conditions and behavioral problems in dogs and cats. Animals 9 12 Chin, L. (2020). Doggie Language: A Dog Lover’s Guide to Understanding Your Best Friend. London, UK: Summersdale Dreschel, N.A. (2010). The effects of fear and anxiety on health and lifespan in pet dogs. Applied Animal Behaviour Science 125 157-0162 Dube, M.B., Asher, L., Wurbel, H., Riemer, S., & Melotti, L. (2020). Parallels in the interactive effects of highly sensitive personality and social factors on behaviour problems in dogs and humans. Scientific Reports 10 Foyer, P., Wilsson, E., Wright, D., & Jensen, P. (2013). Early experiences modulate stress coping in a population of German Shepherd Dogs. Applied Animal Behaviour Science 146 79-87 Henley, E. (2019). Stress triggers and how to deal with them. The Veterinary Nurse 10(2) Howell, T.J., King, T., & Bennett, P.C. (2015). Puppy parties and beyond: the role of early age socialization practices on adult dog behavior. Veterinary Medicine: Research and Reports 6 143-153 Ibanez, M., & Anzola, B. (2009). Use of Fluoxetine, Diazepam, and behavior modification as therapy for treatment of anxiety-related disorders in dogs. Journal of Veterinary Behavior 4 223-229 Ito, A., Kikusui, T., Takeuchi, Y., & Mori, Y. (2006). Effects of early weaning on anxiety and autonomic responses to stress in rats. Behavioural Brain Research 171 87-93 Kikusui, T., Takeuchi, Y., & Mori, Y. (2004). Early weaning induces anxiety and aggression in adult mice. Physiology & Behavior 81 37-42 Luescher, A.U., & Reisner, I.R. (2008). Canine aggression toward familiar people: a new look at an old problem. Veterinary Clinics of North

open, willing, and flexible to incorporate environmental and behavioral changes that were in their control in order to help decrease his stress levels. They were also receptive to the idea of anti­anxiety medications, which made the recommendation to see a veterinary behaviorist easy to bring up in discussion with them. Chronic anxiety in dogs is multifaceted and can manifest in several different ways. Chronic pain that wasn’t treated disguised itself as anxi­ ety. The anxiety manifested as hyperarousal, air snapping, and bites that caused puncture wounds to other dogs. The focus was initially on envi­ ronmental management to eliminate all the known triggers (e.g., not having any dog guests to the house; not being around other dogs in general), and consultation with a veterinary behaviorist. This case was extremely emotionally charged for all stakeholders in­ volved: Gerhardt, Lynn and Lee, their visitors, their guest dogs, and the professionals who collaborated on the case. Chronic anxiety can ab­ solutely disrupt the human­animal bond, and this dog was very lucky to have his humans so invested in his behavioral welfare. Kudos to the en­ tire team. n *Some names have been changed to protect the privacy of the individuals involved. Dr. Sheryl L. Walker holds a master’s degree in behavior analysis and a Ph.D. in animal behavior and sheltering. She also operates WAGS: Wonderful Animal Guidance Services in Lafayette, Indiana, specializing in puppies. She has recently obtained her certified applied animal behaviorist (CAAB) certification, and her current research interests are puppy socialization and training. America: Small Animal Practice 38 1107-1130 Pierantoni, L., Albertini, M., & Pirrone, F. (2011). Prevalence of ownerreported behaviours in dogs separated from the litter at two different ages. Veterinary Record 169 468 Plujimakers, J., Appleby, D., & Bradshaw, W.S. (2006). The influence of early experiences on the development of separation problems related to anxiety and fear in dogs. S. Heath, T. DeKeuster (Eds.), Proceedings of the 12th European Congress on Companion Animal Behavioural Medicine. Ghent, September 21-24 (2006), pp. 82-85 Reisner, I. (2014). Dogs don’t bite out of the blue. Psychology Today Salonen, M., Sulkama, S., Mikkola, S., Puurunen, J., Hakanen, E., Tiira, K., Araujo, C., & Lohi, H. (2020). Prevalence, comorbidity, and breed differences in canine anxiety in 13,700 Finnish pet dogs. Scientific Reports 10(1) Slabbert, J.M., & Rasa, O.A. (1993). The effect of early separation from the mother on pups in bonding to humans and pup health. Journal of the South African Veterinary Association 64 4-8 Tiira, K., Sulkama, S., & Lohi, H. (2016). Prevalence, comorbidity, and behavioral variation in canine anxiety. Journal of Veterinary Behavior 16 36-44 Wilde, N. (2015). The danger of redirected aggression in dogs. HuffPost Yin, S. (2012). Was it just a little bite or more? Evaluating bite levels in dogs Yin, S. (2012). Canine bite levels

Resources Handelman, B. (2008). Canine Behavior: A Photo Illustrated Handbook. Norwich, VT: Woof and Word Press McDevitt, L. (2007). Control Unleashed: Creating a Focused and Confident Dog. South Hadley, MA: Clean Run Productions LLC Radosta, L. (2019, April). Dog Aggression - What Do We Really Know? Pet Professional Guild Summit Keynote Presentation, Portland, OR. In S. Nilson. (2019, July). Considering Canine Aggression from a Scientific Perspective. BARKS from the Guild (37) 10-12 Wilbers, N. (2020). How to train your dog to voluntarily and enthusiastically wear a muzzle!

BARKS from the Guild/May 2021



Predictive Detective Work Anna Bradley looks into why dogs do what they do with a focus on predictive cues and the need to identify the most subtle of environmental triggers

© Can Stock Photo / ChandraSekar

© Can Stock Photo / buchsammy

A dog’s anxiety may begin to heighten long before his guardians’s departure, becoming confirmed when the door is closed and he is left alone

Dogs form links and associations which can lead to predictive behavior that may not always make sense to their guardians


ing on how one feels about one’s job!), we may feel a little sad at leav­ ing the weekend behind, depressed at the thought of a long week ahead or possibly delighted at the prospect of all the challenges. Bound within the physical aspect of what we predict we will actually do, there is a huge element of how we will feel, and it is just the same for dogs.

often hear my clients say they don’t understand why their dog is doing this or that, or that there’s no reason or cause for the behavior at all. But of course, there is always a cause for a dog to behave in a certain way, no matter how perplexing it may seem. Sometimes, to get to that root cause, we have to don our best de­ tective gear because it’s not always easy to figure it out. In this article, I’m going to focus on one such behavior, often described by my clients as “bizarre” or as having “no apparent cause,” firstly because it seems to occur so often (dogs are quick to link cause and effect), secondly, be­ cause it actually amazes me how outlandish some of these connections can become, and thirdly, because my young dog has tried and tested some of these connections herself recently. What I’m referring to is how dogs form links and associations, and ultimately engage in prediction. Many of us follow a pattern in our day­to­day lives in that we may go to work Monday to Friday, for instance. On Sunday, then, we can pre­ dict that on Monday we’ll be back to our usual routine and may spend some time preparing for the upcoming working day, like finishing off some paperwork, deciding what to wear, or filling the car with gas. What we must also remember is the emotional context. What do we feel when we engage in these behaviors? On Sunday evening (depend­

...the sight of a guardian gathering their things and engaging in a specific leaving routine can quickly become linked to feelings of anxiety. This anxiety may begin to heighten long before the guardian’s departure, and is confirmed when the door is closed and the dog is left alone.


BARKS from the Guild/May 2021

Example Behaviors Let’s now look at some of the behaviors that can be attributed to pre­ diction. Something we probably all see is the dog who becomes incredi­ bly excited at the sight of the leash. Sometimes just putting on your coat or picking up the house keys becomes linked with picking up the leash and taking pup for a walk. Things like this can get connected very quickly and become predictive cues, resulting in commonly encountered behaviors of jumping, bouncing, vocalizing etc. that are symptomatic of the dog’s excitement at the impending walk. Consider, though, a contrasting emotional response, like what we may see in cases of separation related disorders. Instead of excitement, the sight of a guardian gathering their things and engaging in a specific leaving routine can quickly become linked to feelings of anxiety. This anxiety may begin to heighten long before the guardian’s departure, and is confirmed when the door is closed and the dog is left alone. Re­ sulting symptoms can include urination, defecation, vocalization, de­ struction, hypervigilance etc. (see also Alone Training on pp.32‐33). In my experience, examples such as these are frequently encoun­ tered and commonly reported yet are detached from the actual cause. A dog’s guardian may report that their dog “acts weird for no reason” when they leave the house, or their dog “goes nuts whenever we go for a walk.”

canine I often hear my clients say they don’t understand why their dog is doing this or that, or that there’s no reason or cause for the behavior at all. But of course, there is always a cause for a dog to behave in a certain way, no matter how perplexing it may seem.


There are more obscure connections too. Take, for instance, the dog who happily goes for a walk, but then for no apparent reason balks at a specific spot. This may appear to be completely random or even a little bit spooky, but closer inspection may reveal that the dog has learned that the leash is clipped back on at that particular spot, signaling the end of the fun. Or, perhaps a few houses further along he has to walk past a scary situation like a dog rushing the fence. In instances like this, the specific location becomes a predictive contextual cue and could also become a predictive cue for anxiety.

Subtle Clues The predictive cues of separation anxiety can be particularly subtle. I re­ call one case I had several years ago of a dog who exhibited stress when her guardian left the house. It was only after a really in­depth examina­ tion that we discovered the scent of the lady’s perfume was the trigger for the dog’s anxiety. The lady only applied the perfume when she was leaving the house and that scent became a predictive emotional cue for the dog’s anxiety. From time to time I also encounter dogs who are labelled “aggres­ sive” by their guardians. I recall one case of a spaniel who would not allow his guardian to brush his face. This dog had experienced a great deal of pain over the past year due to chronic ear mites and his guardian had continued trying to brush him. Even though the initial medical issue was resolved, the dog retained the memory trace of the brush being predictive of pain. I also take the example of my young dog. At just 15 months of age, she enjoys playing with other dogs. When she sees them, she will rush off to join in. Unfortunately, over just a few repetitions of my being neg­ lectful of timing a recall cue (calling when she ran to another dog), she has learned that the recall cue is a prediction that fun with other dogs might be about to happen! I hasten to add she’s improving now, but this is a lesson well learned in timing and shows just how quick dogs can be in forming associations.

Classical Conditioning There are many, many examples I could cite of predictive behaviors – far too many for this article. But why do they happen? In many instances, think classical conditioning. In the case of the spaniel disliking the brush, his attempts to bite his guardian and/or the brush are not at all random or “weird,” because he has learned that all touch equals pain due to his previous chronic ear condition. Add in the brush and the brush quickly becomes a conditioned stimulus. Because it is associated with pain, it becomes something to be avoided, leading the dog to adopt distance­increasing “aggressive” behavior. The same is true with my young dog. She knows that playing with her doggy friends is great fun. Being sloppy with the recall cue, I was adding it in when she was in the middle of running off to play with her friends, which is really exciting for her. After only a few repetitions, the recall cue began to predict that some fun may have been about to hap­ pen. The result was that she was actually running off looking for fun when I called her back, rather than coming back to me! Of course, we can also inadvertently strengthen our dogs’ behavior. By following through with what they predict will actually happen, we re­ inforce the cycle and perpetuate the link. We may get annoyed if our dogs get overexcited and pull at a particular spot when we’re walking to BARKS from the Guild/May 2021


canine a field because they predict they will be allowed off leash. Yet we con­ tinue to reinforce this behavior by letting them off leash because it saves our arm!

Escape/Avoid Dogs will also work to avoid or escape a stimulus they perceive to be un­ desirable for whatever reason. So the dog who balks on a walk is not “being difficult” and does not need to be (and should not be) forced or coerced into walking, or punished for not doing so. Another example: Some clients of mine take their dogs to an area where they can run off leash, but at a certain point the dogs will stop and refuse to go any fur­ ther. The dogs will then run in a particular direction back to their guardians for a reward, always to the left and always doing the exact same thing when in this location. The guardians found this initially very odd behavior, as did I. Eventually we worked out the reason for it. There is a train track close by and the ground vibrates at that specific spot. The dogs quickly learned that avoiding that spot (which evoked symptomatic anxiety) completely and returning in a wide, safe circle for a treat, was more beneficial – and pleasant – for them. Thus, they repeated this every single time they were walked in that field.

Real Life Consequences Unfortunately, dogs are sometimes stigmatized for behaving in an “un­ explained” way. Humans can be too quick to label dogs because we do not understand the full situation. In the worst instances where dogs have exhibited supposedly unexplained aggression, I have received cases due for euthanasia. This makes me especially sad because it really

does demonstrate a lack of regard and understanding of these dogs. Treatment first and foremost involves recognition that something is going wrong and that there is an underlying cause. It is imperative that we take a long hard look at exactly what is happening and work back­ wards from there. What is the driver for the behavior? What does the dog feel? What does she get out of the behavior? What does the guardian add to the situation? How do they react? How does the dog respond to the guardian? All of these things need to be considered. The difficulty with predictive behaviors is that they can proliferate fast. There is the primary link (leash = walk), then comes the secondary link (put coat on + leash = walk), the tertiary link (go to cupboard + get coat + leash = walk) and so forth. Essentially, we need to unravel each link of the chain, remove reinforcement and perhaps add in a new sub­ stitute behavior at each stage and reinforce that instead. Environmental management, situation avoidance, and treatment of acute and chronic pain are also paramount in terms of extinction and behavioral welfare. Ultimately, detective work and careful analysis are involved in iden­ tifying and treating what can look like completely out of character or il­ logical behavior, but there is always a cause. We just owe it to our dogs to work it out. n Anna Francesca Bradley MSc BSc (Hons) is a United Kingdomebased provisional clinical, certified IAABC animal behavior consultant and ABTC accredited behavior consultant. She owns Perfect Pawz! Training and Behavior Practice in Hexham, Northumberland, where the aim is always to create and restore happy relationships between dog and guardian in a relaxed way, using methods based on sound scientific principles, which are both force-free and fun.

The A-Z of Training and Behavior Brought to you by P is for... Pack Theory: A theory based on wolf research that states that pets form linear hierarchies led by alphas. This term has been inaccurately used to describe canine groups and label specific behaviors. Pack theory in wolves and the term ‘alpha’ has largely been replaced by the terms family unit and breeders or breeding pair. Pair or Pairing: The process by which associative learning, also known as respondent conditioning, takes place. One stimulus is associated with another and reliably predicts the other stimulus. Ex. The click is paired with the treat. Parallel Play: When two pets engage in similar play, not with each other but simultaneously. Pattern Training: Also called patterning or overlearning. Doing a large number of repetitions in the high hundreds to low thou-

sands, in an attempt to “program” a pet into responding a specific way. Ping-Ponging: This term was first referenced in print by Morgan Spector in “Clicker Training for Obedience.” Pingponging refers to bouncing your criteria gently back and forth while still slowly increasing it. Poisoned Cue: A cue trained with negative reinforcement will become a negative discriminative stimulus. A cue trained with positive reinforcement will become a positive discriminative stimulus. Therefore, a cue trained with unpleasant consequences is “poisoned” because it does not take on reinforcing properties. Positive Training: A training philosophy where the trainer utilizes positive operant and respondent conditioning protocols as their go-to choice.

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 2021

c a n i n e

Training Tips: Puppy’s First Walk Sally Bradbury outlines some basic training steps to help a puppy get used to the big wide world as well as how to walk on a loose leash


veryone looks forward to the day when puppy can go out for a walk for the first time. Exciting times! But what about puppy? Is he as excited as you or is everything overwhelming for him? It's a big scary world out there. To help prepare him for his big day, get him out and about before­ hand in your arms or a sling, or for car rides. Find somewhere to sit and watch the world go by. Let him see people and dogs and traffic in the distance. Watch for his reactions. Keep him safe and keep him feeling safe. You really want everything to be a nonevent for him. Not too excit­ ing or overwhelming – and definitely not scary. People will want to ooh and aah over him. You'll probably want to show him off but don't let people overwhelm him. Don't allow strangers to approach him and touch him when he is in your arms unless it is clear that he is happy to make the first move. In the meantime, teach the puppy at home to wear a harness and walk nicely on a leash well in advance, so when it’s time to safely take him for a walk, you are already ahead. There are lots of ways to teach nice leash walking. I’ll describe just one of the options here.

…teach the puppy at home to wear a harness and walk nicely on a leash well in advance, so when it’s time to safely take him for a walk, you are already ahead.

Leash Training At mealtimes, walk the puppy around the house holding his food bowl. Give him his food from your other hand, one piece at a time, whenever he is there beside you. You do this without a leash. Keep going until he understands the game and follows you about or walks with you for his whole meal. Meanwhile, between mealtimes, use some yummy treats and sit on the floor and get him used to his collar and/or harness. Once he is happy to wear them and sit with his harness on for treats, then attach

To help prepare a puppy for her first walks, guardians can carry her out and about beforehand in their arms or a sling, or for car rides, then find somewhere to sit and watch the world go by

© Can Stock Photo / cynoclub

© Can Stock Photo / cynoclub

On puppy’s frst official walk everything should be a nonevent for him and not too exciting or overwhelming – and definitely not scary

the leash and give him a treat, take it off, give him a treat, and so on. Now, next mealtime, attach the leash to the puppy’s harness, which he is now fine about. Tuck your end into your belt loop and do as you did previously, walking around the house and garden feeding him as you go. Voila! Puppy is walking on a loose leash. Keep those early walks short. Let the puppy stop to take in the view and have a good sniff. If he can already walk nicely on a leash at home, it pays to continue the leash training in very short bursts outside when it is safe to do so. Puppies, with their developing joints, don't need lots of road walking. Rather, they need to go on little adventures some­ where they can be safely on a long line, where they can run, play and explore, then sit, rest and watch the world go by. In no time you’ll be really enjoying your walk and so will puppy. n Sally Bradbury has worked with dogs all her adult life, from RSPCA kennel maid in her teens to founding and running her own very successful dog training business for 20 years. She was also a founding member of the APDT (United Kingdom). Her passion is helping and supporting new puppy owners raise their puppies to avoid the many pitfalls that results in so many youngsters being handed into rescues in their first year. She is now retired and living in Wales and has recently published children’s book, Jack and Billy: Puppy Tales, featuring two puppies who experience vastly different journeys in their new homes.

BARKS from the Guild/May 2021


f e l i n e

Playing It Safe Andrea Carne reports on a new study that reveals how playtime and a meatier diet can reduce hunting behavior in cats

A study by Cecchetti et al. (2021) found that cats who engaged in play with their guardians using a wand toy for just 5 to 10 minutes a day brought home 25% fewer prey animals

© Can Stock Photo / adogslifephoto

Play with your cat more – and give him a meaty diet…” I wouldn’t be surprised if variations on this kind of advice has been given by vets and cat behavior consultants over the eons. And indeed, in addition to being supportive of feline well­being in gen­ eral, a new study suggests it could also reduce hunting behavior and, perhaps more importantly for many cat guardians, reduce the number of prey animals brought home as unwanted “gifts.” The study, conducted by Martina Cecchetti and colleagues from the University of Exeter in the U.K. and published earlier this year, looked at various types of “interventions” aimed at reducing feline hunting, rather than impeding it, and whether these interventions had an effect on the amount of prey brought home. As the study explains: “Predation by domestic cats Felis catus can be a threat to biodiversity conservation, but its mitigation is controversial. Confinement and collar­mounted devices can impede cat hunting suc­ cess and reduce numbers of animals killed, but some owners do not wish to inhibit what they see as natural behavior…” (Cecchetti et al., 2021). So, instead of interventions which work on impeding hunting behav­ ior – including complete confinement indoors, for instance – the study looked at what it calls “non­invasive” interventions which aim to reduce a cat’s want or tendency to hunt and/or their success in doing so, and whether these can actually be effective.

Research The research team focused on 219 homes in southwest England in which 355 cats resided. The guardians chosen were those whose cats regularly hunted and captured wild animals and brought them back


BARKS from the Guild/May 2021

home. Of the feline participants, 30 were given a bell to wear on their collars and 33 were given a specific Birdsbesafe branded soft collar (see box on opposite page) to wear (both aimed at scaring off prey). A fur­ ther 41 cats were given a puzzle toy for food dispensing, 40 were given a meatier diet (commercial, grain­free food with meat as the primary source of protein) and 38 were played with on a daily basis. There was also a control group in which nothing was changed whatsoever. Over a period of 12 weeks, the cats were studied via guardians re­ porting on the number of prey animals brought home each day by each cat, and compared that with numbers of same logged by guardians over a seven­week period prior to the introduction of the interventions. The study ultimately found that cats who engaged in play with their guardians using a wand toy for just 5 to 10 minutes a day brought home 25% fewer prey animals. In addition, it found that cats fed more meat­ based protein in their meals brought home 36% less prey. It’s worth noting here that cats do not bring home all the prey that they kill. However, it’s reasonable to assume cats are generally consis­ tent with the percentage they bring home, making the study still rele­ vant in comparing numbers.

Results The results were interesting on a number of levels. Strange as it may seem, the cats given puzzle toys actually hunted more. And while the Birdsbesafe collars were effective in reducing the numbers of birds brought home (by 42%), they had no effect on the number of mammals caught. However, while there were varying degrees of success with all items, the meatier diet and playtime came out on top as being the most

f e l i n e effective strategies in reducing the amount of prey brought home. The researchers surmised this would be welcome news to many cat guardians: "Reductions in predation can be made by non­invasive, posi­ tive contributions to cat nutrition and behavior that reduce their ten­ dency to hunt, rather than impede their hunting…These measures are likely to find support among cat owners who are concerned about the welfare implications of other interventions." (Cecchetti, et al., 2021). Now, there are some issues with this study, which the researchers themselves acknowledge and which point to further study being neces­ sary. This includes the cats potentially not having enough time to be­ come familiar with the food puzzles and their resulting frustration possibly leading to more of a tendency to hunt. There were also some issues with palatability of the meatier diet provided, particularly the wet version, which may have affected outcomes. But despite some possible shortcomings, what I personally applaud this study for is providing more evidence that supports the importance of play for cats.

Play As a cat behavior consultant, I am always encouraging guardians to play with their cats more. Not only is it good for the cats’ overall health and well­being; it can also help with behavior modification programs and build the bond between cat and guardian. Now, I can happily say it has the added benefit of reducing the hunting of live prey and bringing some of those kills home – which is a common cause of distress for cat guardians who allow their cats access to the outdoors. In the Cecchetti study (2021), a wand toy was provided as the tool of choice for object play. The research team found that the majority of cats in the object play group immediately responded to the toy and that many of the guardians intended to continue the activity following the study. This is good news – for all cat guardians, including those with in­ door­only felines. What we must understand is that, just because our cats may not have access to hunting live prey by being kept indoors, they do not lose the natural instinct to hunt. It is therefore a vital part of cat ownership and advocacy that guardians provide outlets for this natural behavior (particularly if their cats are indoor­only) and object play can provide just that, if it’s done in a behaviorally­appropriate way.

I am always encouraging guardians to play with their cats more. Not only is it good for the cats’ overall health and well-being; it can also help with behavior modification programs and build the bond between cat and guardian.

Wand toys are particularly good for providing a sequence through which cats can display innate hunting behavior without actually killing anything. By mimicking a bird or other animal in flight or motion, using a wand toy allows cats the opportunity to stalk the “prey,” to pounce on it – sometimes getting it, sometimes not – manipulate it (which often involves flopping on their backs to play with it), and then, if guardians finish the sequence by throwing a tasty treat, the cat can “devour” something. Such sequences are important for the cat to display all ele­ ments of hunting behavior and to avoid the frustration that may come if they are never able to actually catch the “prey.” A series of short, energetic bouts of play with a rest in between, is also recommended, rather than a lengthy bout which can lead to over­ stimulation.

Food Puzzles And, despite food puzzles being problematic in the U.K. study in terms of reducing hunting behavior, they remain one of my favorite energy busters – where cats have to use their brains to solve puzzles in order to get food. But they can also act as object play when used in a way that involves the hunting behaviors of foraging, pouncing, manipulating and devouring. There is a multitude of options available online or in pet stores, in­ cluding Kongs™, but guardians can also make their own. Ideas include: • Cardboard toilet roll or paper towel centers with a treat inside and the ends squashed down. • Small boxes such as tissue boxes (with any plastic removed) and treats inside. • An empty plastic water bottle with some holes cut in and treats inside – that needs to be rolled around for the treats to fall out.

Research Shows Brightly Colored Collar Can Reduce Number of Birds Caught by Cats


© Birdsbesafe LLC As songbirds see bright colors, an accessory of bright colors around a cat’s neck could help make the cat easier for the birds to see—and avoid

he patented Birdsbesafe® cat collar cover was invented in Ver­ mont, U.S., to solve the problem of the inventor's cat hunting and harming birds. The inventor was aware that songbirds see bright colors especially well, due to their eye anatomy, and so she reasoned that putting an accessory of bright colors around a cat’s neck could help make the cat easier for the birds to see—and fly away from. When the colorful collar accessory worked to stop the cat’s bird captures, the in­ ventor set a goal of popularizing the product through her company, Birdsbesafe LLC. More than 10 years after the invention, the product has been vali­ dated in more than five scientific field studies globally. The U.K. has had two studies, of which the Cecchetti study is the most recent. A previous study from Scotland found a 78% reduction in birds caught, and in the U.S., an average of 87% reduction in birds caught was shown. Rodents that cats may prey upon are not much protected by the Birdsbesafe collar cover because they do not have particularly good color vision. Songbirds can even see bright colors well in low light con­ ditions, because of their eye anatomy. ­ Nancy Brennan, owner/founder ­ Birdsbesafe LLC

BARKS from the Guild/May 2021


f e l i n e sions with wand toys, can provide great enrichment for cats of all ages. Enrichment for our feline family members comes in many forms, but play (with toys and via food puzzles) is so very important. I, for one, am very appreciative of studies such as that by Cecchetti and colleagues, which offer evidence of the benefits of play not only to cats and their guardians but also to wildlife populations. Let’s hope researchers look further into this interesting field to pro­ vide more evidence supporting the importance of play for cats in order for them to lead happy, healthy, behaviorally­enriched lives. n

Reference Cecchetti, M., Crowley, S.L., Goodwin, C.E.D., & McDonald, R.A. (2021). Provision of High Meat Content Food and Object Play Reduce Predation of Wild Animals by Domestic Cats Felis catus. Current Biology. DOI: 10.10.16/j.cub.2020.12.044

Resources © Can Stock Photo / GoooDween123

Cecchetti et al.’s study (2021) found that feeding cats a meatier diet was one of the most effective strategies in reducing the amount of prey they brought home

• •

An egg carton with the lid down and treats inside. A mini muffin baking tray with treats in each hole and ping pong balls on top. • A sensory box – a larger cardboard box filled with scrunched up paper, leaves, bits of bark etc. – and some treats thrown in that they have to forage for. • A treasure hunt placed around the whole house with treats wrapped up in a bit of paper. All of these involve not only mental stimulation but also call on be­ haviors involved with hunting for food which, together with play ses­


BARKS from the Guild/May 2021

Birdsbesafe® Birdsbesafe® [Video File] Pemberton, C., & Ruxton, G.D. (2019). Birdsbesafe® collar cover reduces bird predation by domestic cats (Felis catus). Journal of Zoology (310) 2 106-109 Pineda, J, (2016). Veterinarian is Out to Change How We Feed Cats. Veterinary Practice News 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.

e q u i n e

The Complete Picture In the second part of a three-part article, Kathie Gregory takes a detailed look at body positions, features and postures to get a better understanding of what animals are telling us via their body language

© Can Stock Photo / Melory

A tail held high usually (but not always) means a high emotional state of arousal or excitement, as is the case here


n the first part of this article (see Understanding Animals, BARKS from the Guild, March 2021, pp.50‐51), I explained why there is more to understanding an animal’s emotional state than body language alone. Now let's look at the different types of information our animals give us with the positions of parts of the body.

Ears Ears facing forward can indicate that an animal’s attention is on some­ thing forward, and in front of them. We are often told that if the ears are forward then the animal is uncomfortable and not relaxed, particu­ larly when it comes to horses, but this is not necessarily the case. Not being relaxed does not equate to being uncomfortable or unhappy. Ears forward can just as easily mean that an animal is in a positive, attentive state. We may see ears forward when one animal is greeting another, when he is interested in something, and when he is happy, as well as when he is not happy. Ears facing sideways can mean that an animal is paying attention to something in that direction. It can also be a general position for interest in the environment and not an indication of an emotional state. Or it can indicate that he is relaxed and not focusing on anything specific. It might also indicate that he is anxious or unsure and, on the flip side, something is just catching his interest and attention. It may be that the ears are on their way to a backwards or forwards orientation and at this


BARKS from the Guild/May 2021

point they don't indicate anything yet. When ears are held back it often indicates anger, fear, anxiety, or pain – but this is not all that it can indicate. How far back the ears are can indicate different things: slightly back can mean an animal is being friendly, while a backwards orientation may mean that he has tuned into something going on behind him. My horses will sometimes have their ears placed in a range of posi­ tions when they are eating. It depends on their mood and what is going on. Often, they are just actively engaged rather than relaxed. But I never post photos like this online as someone is bound to comment that, based on the ear position there is some kind of conflict going on and, therefore, they must be unhappy about something. You can see how basic interpretations can be so inaccurate, and how a photo only gives a superficial view of the complexity of the mind.

Tail A tail held high usually means a high emotional state of arousal or ex­ citement, but that on its own does not tell you whether an animal is in a positive or negative emotional state. High arousal can be appetitive, meaning the animal is interested and anticipating something good, or the emotional state can be in threat and protect, so the animal is ex­ pecting confrontation. A lifted tail generally means mild arousal of interest or anxiety

e q u i n e When ears are held back it often indicates anger, fear, anxiety, or pain – but this is not all that it can indicate. How far back the ears are can indicate different things: slightly back can mean an animal is being friendly, while a backwards orientation may mean that he has tuned into something going on behind him. (threat and protect). The emotions are not strong and can easily go one way or the other. This is often an in­between stage when the animal is assessing a situation. A tail in a low, downward position is generally seen as an animal being calm, relaxed, and without any particular emotional aspect. But these assumptions are based on animals whose tails are naturally held down. If we look at those breeds where the tail is naturally held high, then of course a high tail does not necessarily signify high arousal. Rather, it is actually the normal position and indicates a relaxed state of mind. If the tail is held low, it may mean that the animal is tired, or that he is not relaxed, and might indicate an aroused emotional state. Next, we need to look at whether the tail is still or moving. A swishing tail is generally said to be irritation. The animal is annoyed and unrecep­ tive – he is saying ‘go away.’ But saying ‘go away’ also has different con­ texts. The horse that swishes his tail to get flies off him is not necessarily irritated in his mind. His skin might be irritated but that’s all. Some horses find flies affect how they feel and are less tolerant, so may not welcome someone handling them at this time. Some are completely chilled out and swishing the tail to get rid of the flies doesn't change that. Another example: You see a cat swishing her tail. What does that body language say? The most common interpretation is that the cat is not happy, or is angry. But this is only one of the reasons cats swish their tails. She will also swish her tail when she is playing, when she is worried, when she is having a cuddle, and when she is hunting. Some­ times the way the tail lnot give you any information, and sometimes it is in stark contrast to what she is feeling.

Face A tight mouth conveys conflict, anger, fear, anxiety, or pain. With regard to horses, if they also have a long nose (i.e. nostrils are narrowed and elongated), this usually means conflict and anxiety. But a long nose on its own is generally a sign of happiness and enjoyment. Flared nostrils can mean excitement, fear, anger, irritation, pain, or disgust, as can wrinkled nostrils. Usually there is a higher emotional state when the nostrils are flared. Eyes partially closed can signify contentment or pain. If the whites

© Can Stock Photo / Zuzule

A stamp of the foot or kicking the leg forwards is a typical action made by a horse that seems to say stay away, but this is also seen when horses are making friends

of the eyes are showing it can mean fear, and wrinkles around the eyes can indicate pain and anxiety. But once again, they may indicate other emotions and feelings.

Body A head thrust forward is generally said to mean stay away, but this is a typical action when an animal is interested in getting closer in anticipa­ tion of greeting another. A foreleg lift is often a prelude to an active de­ fense strategy and indicates forward movement. A stamp of the foot or kicking the leg forwards is a typical action made by a horse. Now, this seems to say stay away, but you also see it when horses are making friends. In such cases, instead of it being a signal to the other horse to leave, it is a signal to say, ‘don't come too close yet, I need some time to get used to you.’ Turning the body away from an individual does mean that the ani­ mal is not interested in contact, but determining how the animal feels requires more information.

Licking and Chewing Licking and chewing are commonly said to be the result of thinking and processing information, that the animal is learning something. But this

BARKS from the Guild/May 2021


e q u i n e

© Can Stock Photo / TNCPhotography

Flared nostrils can mean excitement, fear, anger, irritation, pain, or disgust; usually there is a higher emotional state when the nostrils are flared

is not really true. Licking and chewing are a very strong indicator of stress, anxiety, fear, and anticipation of something unpleasant. They can happen before, at the time, and/or after whatever has caused the nega­ tive emotions. They are also probably the clearest of body language sig­ nals, as they are almost always an indication of a negative emotional state. However, licking can also be done in other contexts, including in an­ ticipation of something positive. But as the other contexts are purely positive, it is easy to understand whether the animal is saying he is happy or unhappy. My young puppy likes a little bit of milk and I have noticed that as I get the milk out she licks her lips. Now, just to compli­ cate things, you can see conflict in some animals where you think that they are anticipating a nice experience. So you cannot be sure that lick­ ing the lips is truly a positive anticipation until you know the animal's perception of the situation. In my case, Willow was interested in what I was getting out of the fridge and so I gave her a bit of milk. She said that was yummy and could she have some more, so I gave her more. Knowing she likes milk I give her some during the day. There are no conditions attached, I just love to see her enjoying it. Now she asks me when she wants some milk and I get it for her. Willow licks her lips as I pour the milk into a bowl. It’s a lovely thing for her. But we also have to understand that we have a huge influence on the things we give, provide, and enjoy with our animals. We might think that something is a positive, happy experience for them, but how often do we actually analyze what we are doing and how the animal perceives it? As humans, we tend to make rules and have conditions for things we see as rewards and treats for our animals so they have to achieve some­ thing, adhere to our expectations, or perform as we want them to to get the reward. From our point of view, we are training them and making it clear what behavior gets the reward. If they do this then they get that, and that is positive, right? Well, no, not always. Imagine how you would feel if everything nice you received was only ever as a result of this scenario. An animal may thus be concerned or anxious as to whether they have done what they need to do to get the reward. And that can be stressful. I'm going off topic here, but the point is that such scenarios can create conflict in the brain.

Fast or Slow © Can Stock Photo / nameinfame

The horse that swishes his tail to get flies off him is not necessarily in an irritated emotional state

BARKS from the Guild

We also need to take two more aspects of body language into account. The first, as previously mentioned, is whether there is stillness or move­ ment. If there is movement, how slow or fast it is it? Stillness or move­ ment can mean relaxed or aroused. Fast or slow movement can also be

BARKS from the Guild is the 64-page bimonthly pet industry trade magazine published by the Pet Professional Guild, available internationally to Pet Professional Guild members, supporters and the general public via a free lifetime digital subscription. Widely read by pet industry professionals and pet guardians alike, BARKS covers a vast range of topics encompassing animal behavior, pet care, training, education, industry trends, business AND MUCH MORE! If you would like to reach your target audience, BARKS is the perfect vehicle to achieve that goal. To contribute an article, please contact the editor, Susan Nilson.


To advertise, please contact Kelly Fahey.

BARKS from the Guild/May 2021

e q u i n e A tail held high usually means a high emotional state of arousal or excitement, but that on its own does not tell you whether an animal is in a positive or negative emotional state. relaxed or aroused. We cannot say one means one thing and the other means something else. It is dependent on the animal, their personality, their breed traits, and the situation they are in. The second aspect is whether the body part we are looking at is re­ laxed or tense. There is a huge difference between the same position or movement when the animal is relaxed compared to when he is tense. It is not just about the position of a part of the body, it is also about the how that part is expressed and the context in which it is expressed, along with the situation the animal is in. Together, this tells you how the animal is feeling.

Mannerisms We then need to add mannerisms. We all have movements and posi­ tions that are our preference. We can easily identify these mannerisms when we see someone and recognize that they do this particular thing. You might also have noticed that they do that mannerism when they are in both a positive and negative emotional state. So that tells you the person’s preference in terms of how they behave, and that they are in a higher emotional state when they do these things. If we don't look fur­ ther, we just think this is someone's thing. But there is more to it than that. There will be subtle differences between the mannerisms depend­

ing on whether the person is in a positive or negative mood. And the same is true for our animals. We know what their default/instinct behaviors are. If we look closely, we can see the differ­ ent emotions that inform those actions even though they are the same in different situations. We can also be aware that if they do not do what they usually do, there is something else going on that we need to ac­ knowledge and adjust for. Now we have a more complete picture of body language and what it means. As I have said, we need to look at all aspects of an animal to really understand what they are saying. n In the third and final part of this article, we'll look at vocalizations and their meanings, then put them together with body language in order to truly understand what our animals are communicating.

Resources Gregory, K. (2021, March). Understanding Animals. BARKS from the Guild (47) 50-51 Kathie Gregory is a qualified animal behavior consultant, presenter and author, specializing in advanced cognition and emotional intelligence. Passionate about raising standards and awareness in how we teach and work with animals, she has developed Free Will TeachingTM, a concept that provides the framework for animals to enjoy life without compromising their own free will. She has authored two books, A tale of two horses: a passion for free will teaching, and A Puppy Called Wolfie: a passion for free will teaching, and her work is currently divided between working with clients, mentoring, and writing.

Pet Training and Behavior Consulting: A Model for Raising the Bar to Protect Professionals, Pets and Their People Pet Training and Behavior Consulting: A Model for Raising the Bar to Protect Professionals, Pets and Their People is a newly published book in which the authors present their views on: • •

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The need for a level and model of oversight in the fields of pet training and behavior consulting and for those choosing to practice within them. The prevalence of individuals who hold no credentials, formal education, knowledge or skills, yet who are today working across the nation with full responsibility for the well-being and welfare of their unknowing clients’ treasured pets. The lack of consumer protection and transparency across the marketing and operations platforms of many pet-related businesses. The inherent weakness in how pets are legally classified. How the current lack of reported and enforced animal cruelty laws means there is insufficient protection when it comes to holding pet professionals accountable for their methods, approach and philosophies toward their craft and the pets they serve.

The authors advise on the pertinence of all these issues to the development of an infrastructure for oversight to support the professional evolution of the pet training and behavior industry while providing a complete recommended implementation model from which to do so.

"I would urge anyone interested in the direction of the industry to get a copy. It has been invaluable for a project I am involved in, and identifies and clarifies really important aspects of the industry that desperately need addressing. Even as an individual practitioner it provides a great resource for identifying best practice." - Andrew Hale, chair of association of INTOdogs "Check out this groundbreaking new resource for the pet training and behavior consulting industry written by the best in the business." - Paula Garber, owner of LIFELINE Cat Behavior Solutions and chairwoman of the Pet Professional Guild Feline Committee "Reliable, scientifically accurate behavioral information from experts in the field." - Gallivan Burwell, owner of Upward Dog Training & Counseling

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BARKS from the Guild/May 2021


Today’s PPG Junior Members are Tomorrow’s Pet Industry Leaders

The Journey Starts Here - Join the PPG Junior Membership Program Loads of Benefits Including: Individual level member badge Membership Certificate A moderated chat group on PPG’s website FREE Participation in the Pet Dog Ambassador Program FREE Junior Member PPAB credentialing Listing in Junior Membership Directory on PPG’s website A FREE e-book – A Kid’s Comprehensive Guide to Speaking Dog Participation in the Annual Training Deed Challenge

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Ask the Experts: Mastering a Schedule Veronica Boutelle of PPG corporate partner dog*biz sets out guidelines for what to do when you have too much to do


: I read in your Monthly Minute newsletter about creating a master schedule. I love the idea of having a way to organize everything I’ve got on my plate. I love the idea of not feeling stressed by a to‐do list that I never manage to finish, both for my business and in my personal life. But I have to tell you—it’s not working. What am I doing wrong? A: I’m super glad you’re working to find ways to gain control of your to­do lists and your sched­ ule and, most importantly, your work/life bal­ ance. A master schedule is a powerful way to do that. A well­crafted schedule creates a place for everything, allowing you to move through your days peacefully. It allows you to focus on © Can Stock Photo / iqoncept just the task at hand, knowing that everything A well­crafted schedule allows you to focus on just the task at hand, knowing that everything else will be else will be taken care of in its own spot. taken care of at the allotted time You haven’t given me a whole lot to go on to help pinpoint what’s keeping your master schedule from doing its job that are most important to you. If you don’t prioritize deliberately you for you. But from the bit you’ve shared—having a lot on your plate and may find that those things most dear (like time with your own dogs) or what sounds like a never­ending to­do list—I’m going to hazard a guess most important (like building your business) are sacrificed to lesser tasks that the breakdown is the most common culprit: Too much to do. or commitments. A master schedule is a powerful tool, but it’s not magical. Organiz­ This won’t be easy to do. Most likely there aren’t many things on ing how you use your time can make you more efficient and remove a your current to­do lists that don’t have value. You may feel guilty about lot of stress, but it can’t change the natural laws of time. If you’re trying letting certain things go or saying no to others. But there’s no getting to fit in more than is possible to get done in a day your master schedule around the limited number of hours in a day and, while everything may will break down. have value, some things are more important than others. Give yourself permission to build a realistic master schedule that prioritizes what’s most important to you and I think you’ll find it works much better. n Prioritizing One thing we love about helping clients and THRIVE! members build their schedules is this moment I suspect you’re in right now. It’s initially distressing to realize that, no matter how hard you work, you simply cannot do it all. But facing that reality is the first step to freeing yourself from the stress and moving toward balance. So your next step is taking a hard look at all that you have on your plate, and then doing the (sometimes painful) work of reducing it. What can be set down or scaled back in order to build a realistic, sustainable schedule for yourself, one in which you feel you are finally in control and on top of things? Start by identifying the things you do (or want to do)

A master schedule is a powerful tool, but it’s not magical. Organizing how you use your time can make you more efficient and remove a lot of stress, but it can’t change the natural laws of time. If you’re trying to fit in more than is possible to get done in a day your master schedule will break down.

If you don’t already read dogbiz’s Monthly Minute e‐newsletter, we highly recommend it! Sign up for a free subscription to benefit from their monthly business tips for R+ trainers. ‐ Ed. Veronica Boutelle MA Ed CTC is founder and co-president of dog*biz, and author of How to Run Your Dog Business and co-author of Minding Your Dog Business. dog*biz offers professionally designed positive reinforcement dog training class curricula, including Open-Enrollment Puppy, Open-Enrollment Basic Manners, and short Topics classes built for retention.

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A Tale of Two Selves In the first of a two-part article, Niki Tudge explains how pet professionals can learn to enjoy more success with their virtual or live training programs by implementing motivational interviewing and commitment strategies

Motivational Interviewing works on the principle that people experience ambivalence about change and that it is normal for there to be a disconnect between the client’s own stated goals and their actual behavior © Can Stock Photo / kgtoh


rofessional pet trainers have every right to expect that what they learn in certification programs will also fully prepare them to manage their clients through the necessary behavior change to support a successful pet training program. While new protocols and training methods may emerge, or new re­ search may alter our understanding of how best to approach pet train­ ing sessions, the premise is that the core knowledge and skills required by a professional are covered in most available educational programs. Although professionals may be satisfied with the skill and knowledge they receive through their certification process, by their own admission, they may also be left unsure of how best to approach and create behav­ ior change programs when it comes to their two­legged clients. Further complicating matters is the disconnect between the apparently idealis­ tic application of behavior change programs and the practical realities of working “in the trenches” with real people. The reality is that, broadly speaking, the educational courses and programs professionals attend cannot possibly prepare them to work with the human side of the leash as well.

The personal trainer who is equipped with the indispensable skills of behavior change is not only better prepared to face a variety of clients, but also to inspire powerful change within them – Claire Dorotik‐Nana (2019) 54

BARKS from the Guild/May 2021

In our industry, a successful training program also requires a pet’s guardians to make changes to their own behavior and living environ­ ment. But this part of the requisite skill set is frequently omitted from professional curriculums. As a result, we appear to be missing the mark on an industry­wide scale when it comes to providing the necessary education to support pet professionals in their need to change human behavior. While they may be armed with the relevant academic knowledge and skills then, their success as people trainers is actually predicated on changing their clients’ personal behavior in their interactions with their pets. And what they need and what has been provided through their education may be two different things entirely. Pet professionals need up­to­date, evidence­based and innovative approaches to changing human behavior, not only for their individual case success but also to promote the humane and ethical side of pet training. The ready availability of accurate information, education, and train­ ing for both professionals and guardians has also seen the spread of problematic – and even dangerous – misinformation via poorly re­ searched television shows, punitive “personality” trainers and ill­in­ formed educational forums. And so we need to, in fact we must, question how effective we are, not only in changing an individual client’s behavior, but also the culture of punishment and outdated train­ ing approaches in the long­term.

business Transforming Client Behavior Pet professionals are often under intense pressure, possibly more than ever now due to COVID­19, to create changes in pets’ behavior. But using virtual systems to help coach clients through training programs can stretch their people skills. In the absence of a systematic approach to gathering information, they can be left feeling stumped, demotivated and awkward instead of empowering and inspiring the client. As trainers, we may feel the need to quickly prove the efficacy and efficiency of our methods to our clients. Many of us strive to stand out amongst the competition as individuals advocating for humane, effec­ tive approaches. Lacking speedy results, we may fear the abandonment of clients moving instead towards quick solutions and electronic de­ vices, many of which leave pets in peril. If we do not understand them, what stage of change they may be in and their motivations for change, then their ambivalence and mitigating personal factors can hinder our efforts. Inspiring our clients to change must begin with understanding them on a fundamental level. As I so often say, we must first engage so we can educate and empower! Inspiring our clients to take on the task of not only training their pets but changing their own behavior is para­ mount to their—and our—success. Our progressive training movement, our own personal emotional well­being, and the pet’s future depend on it.

The goal for professional trainers and the key to their success is to partner with clients. This is best achieved when they are able to unmask discrepancies between the client’s goals versus their actual behavior during the motivational interview. tween the client’s own stated goals and their actual behavior. How often does this ring true for pet trainers? We attend appointments with clients prepared to support them with a behavior change program, only to experience noncommitment and/or a reluctance to implement rec­ ommendations at best, or anger, frustration, and/or objection at worst. The goal for professional trainers and the key to their success is to partner with clients. This is best achieved when they are able to unmask discrepancies between the client’s goals versus their actual behavior during the motivational interview. This unmasking brings about an un­ derstanding that can help the client recognize their own internal resist­ ance to change and how that can thwart the entire program. Interviewing that focuses on a client’s motivation draws upon the dual universal feelings of self­actualization and ambivalence; it activates the capacity for beneficial change that everyone possesses (Miller & Roll­ nick, 1991).

Human Behavior Change


There are numerous ways that our understanding of human behavior change can support our successes. First, our understanding of the Trans­ theoretical Model (or Stages of Change Model) of behavior change (now refined into a set of six distinctive stages) is important. The model de­ scribes the thoughts, feelings, and behaviors of people in the process of making a change. Later editions explained the motivational conflicts people experience when making a change and how best to manage them through this (LaMorte, 2021). If we develop the skills to identify the stage of change clients are in, we can better help them navigate through the changes brought on by our training program recommendations. Professionals who utilize piv­ otal relationship­building skills will develop a strong rapport with their clients, which enhances client motivation and empowerment. If we can harness the skills of motivational interviewing and raise our clients’ awareness of the benefits of change, it could help shift their decisional balance towards actually making the change. Client motivation is important and by harnessing the three core ele­ ments of mastery, autonomy and purpose, we can ignite their intrinsic desire for change. Thus, recognizing the necessity and mechanics of im­ plementing sound commitment strategies into our client consulting ses­ sions will enable us to dramatically motivate and maintain change. For the sake of concision, I will focus here on the strategies I con­ sider most germane to our current operating environment: motiva­ tional interviewing (MI) and commitment. The understanding and application of these two strategies can help professionals manage client changes more efficiently and favorably, and I believe they can be quickly implemented.

MI as a behavioral change method functions on the belief that clients possess the capacity and desire for self­actualization, i.e. they want to operate at their full potential and achieve their goals. It also acknowl­ edges that the power to change is within our clients, not us, if we can harness and manage the process. Ambivalence is a normal part of any change process, yet when left unchecked will be a key obstacle to achieving mutually desired results. A collaborative partnership, an em­ pathetic and supportive approach with a clearly defined style, facilitates change more effectively than an overly directive, argumentative, or shaming style that decreases motivation. According to Miller (1996), MI is a counseling style based on a few assumptions, including that ambivalence about change is normal and constitutes an important motivational obstacle in recovery. Ambiva­ lence can be resolved by working with our clients’ intrinsic motivations and values. The alliance between us and our client is a collaborative partnership to which we each bring important expertise. An empathic, supportive, yet directive, counseling style provides conditions under which change can occur. Direct argument and aggressive confrontation may tend to increase client defensiveness and reduce the likelihood of behavioral change.

Motivational Interviewing MI was introduced as a counselling technique in the mental health field with substance abuse patients in 1982. Developed by clinical psy­ chologists William R. Miller and Stephen Rollnick, it has now become a widely accepted method of assisting any type of behavioral change and is therefore valid to our use in the approach of pet guardian train­ ing. MI works on the principle that people experience ambivalence about change and that it is normal for there to be a disconnect be­

Pet professionals need up­to­date, evidence­based and innovative approaches to changing human behavior © Can Stock Photo / ivelinradkov

BARKS from the Guild/May 2021


© Can Stock Photo / robwilson39


A collaborative partnership, an empathetic and supportive approach with clearly defined style, facilitates change better than an overly directive, argumentative, or shaming style that decreases motivation and reduces change efforts

Dorotik­Nana (2019) proposes the following as the five principles of MI: • • • • •

Expressing empathy through active listening. Uncovering ambivalence. Avoiding argument and direct confrontation. Adjusting to client resistance rather than opposing it directly. Supporting the client with encouragement and optimism.

Uncovering Ambivalence If we can uncover ambivalence, we can then use it to motivate our clients. I believe in many cases this is the missing piece of the behavior change puzzle. Here, our goal is to highlight the discrepancy that exists between where the client is, the state of the scenario now, and where they communicate that they would like to be, i.e. their goals. When clients recognize this discrepancy exists, it can be a huge “a­ha” mo­ ment for them. They will then become aware of their own internal re­ sistance to the changes we are recommending and how this resistance can – and will – hold up progress. Think about a client who is adamant about wanting to train their puppy. They want a well­behaved dog and need solutions quickly to pre­ vent the puppy from soiling in the home and chewing inappropriate things. Yet they may balk at putting management tasks in place or re­ fuse to use a crate. Our job as people trainers is to unmask the discrepancy between what clients say they want and what they are prepared to work toward. Once they have that “a­ha” moment, they will be much more open to working with us and become aware that they need our support to get the job done. Through communication with the client, we will get a sense of what is important to them, what they are willing to negotiate and what are their key focus points. Open­ended questions, empathy, support and re­ flection should unmask what is holding them back from committing to our ideas and suggestions. For example, saying the following acknowledges a client’s desire for


BARKS from the Guild/May 2021

self­actualization but also lets them know we recognize their behavior as ambivalent: “You reached out to me for training, so I can see that you are really concerned about your puppy’s future, yet you are not wanting to make any changes to the given system of managing them. This will not line up with your goals.” Simple reflection may work and be a neu­ tral way to recognize their resistance – without causing further resist­ ance. Through our questioning and using reflection, we will discover other viable alternatives we can adopt and work towards together. In the puppy training scenario, perhaps the client is open to using a pet pen or a bathroom that can be gated off, but has difficulty with the concept of crate training based on past experience or outdated information. There are several methods we can use to unwrap ambivalence when communicating with our clients under the broad terms Reflection, Refocusing, and Reframing. As a last resort, we can use negative lan­ guage to elicit a “yes” response from our clients as we highlight the am­ bivalence in their position. Let’s take a closer look at each method:

Reflection 1. Simple Reflection: We repeat the client’s statement in a neu­ tral form. This elicits the client giving us an opposite response and high­ lights ambivalence. 2. Amplified Reflection: This reflects the client’s response with exaggeration, so it’s more extreme. This helps move the client towards positive change away from resistance. 3. Double‐Sided Reflection: This is only useful if we have had prior conversations with the client as it reflects things the client has said to us in the past.

Refocusing 4. Shifting Focus: This is a tool to help diffuse a client’s resistance by helping them shift away from focus points they are stuck on. 5. Agreement with a Twist: This is a subtle way to agree with our client but slightly change the direction of conversation or focus. It helps propel the discussion in a different direction.

business When communicating with clients, we need to ask scaling questions about change and how important it is for them. What is holding the client back from embracing the recommended change? What steps and actions can they take to reduce the power the resistance has over them? Reframing 6. Reframing: This is a good strategy to use when a client denies a personal problem exists, such as lack of family support or time restric­ tions.

Eliciting a “Yes” Response 7. Siding with Negative: This occurs when we take up the nega­ tive voice in the discussion as often it will elicit a “Yes, but” response from our client highlighting the ambivalence. If we listen carefully to our clients, we will detect the discrepancies. We can then use them to motivate the client. This will be the major dif­ ference between clients who call and schedule a single session and those who, from the single session, book a package and follow through with the program.

Ambivalence as Motivation Changing behavior is certainly not an easy process. People often feel ill at ease just with the thought of having to change something or transi­ tion through a change process. On the one hand, our clients will reach out and schedule an appointment so we can help them resolve a behav­ ior problem, only then, on the other hand, to lose motivation and focus once we arrive on site and begin the actual consulting process. These types of inconsistencies and incongruent feelings are a normal and ex­ pected consequence of the process of change. MI accepts that ambivalence is the primary cause of low client moti­ vation. When we facilitate the client’s self­discovery of their own am­ bivalence, then, with our support, as a team we can find ways to overcome it while strengthening our relationship. We must always avoid labeling this ambivalence as resistance or denial and instead use it to leverage understanding and action moving forward. Ambivalence provides a powerful opportunity for client motivation and growth. When communicating with clients, we need to ask scaling questions about change and how important it is for them. What is hold­ ing the client back from embracing the recommended change? What steps and actions can they take to reduce the power the resistance has over them? To address a client’s ambivalence, we can incorporate questions into our intake procedures that will draw their attention to their discrepan­ cies. This will allow us to address the disconnect during our conversa­ tions. It’s an important part of the training. We need to be asking the client how they wish to proceed rather than telling them how it will happen. We can use “Change Talk,” i.e. the language we employ when we speak of change itself, to promote commitment. This type of conver­ sation helps us understand how the client feels, what desire they have, and whether there is still any resistance or self­doubt in the plan.

Paul Armhein found that the more a person’s language revealed a commitment toward change, the more likely that change was to occur (Armhein et al., 2004).

Understanding Our Clients’ Two Selves Behavior change for clients is a game we continue to play without reli­ able results. How many times do clients drop out of programs, not re­

BARKS from the Guild/May 2021


business book sessions, or ask to be referred to an alternative trainer? One of the most stated reasons by professional trainers for a failure to perform suc­ cessful services in pet training is that the client was not committed or was noncompliant. Clients, just like us – in fact, all humans – make choices that do not align with their goals. They lack self­control. Compli­ ance to a training program can be resolved by unmasking and address­ ing ambivalence. So how do we address the commitment factor? Much of what we all do regarding choice and decisions is what be­ havioral economists refer to as “hyperbolic discounting.” This phenome­ non explains why, in the present, we understand the benefits of a decision but, over time, the benefits decrease and the cost of making the change increases. We then see the decision as no longer favorable for us. Think of that first­appointment client who is so excited to see you, but then contact wanes over time! To really understand our clients, we need to understand the difference between how clients think they will respond versus how they actually respond. This leads into the im­ portance of commitment devices, i.e. “an arrangement that a person enters into with themselves to make certain choices more expensive than others and thus unfavorable.” (Dorotik­Nana, 2019, p.108).

Soft vs. Hard Commitment Commitment strategies come in two forms: soft and hard. Each has their individual strengths and weaknesses, and their suitability is very dependent on the individual. Soft commitments are those that do not have a direct penalty to the individual and use social, psychological, and financial incentives to shape the individual’s behavior. Hard commit­ ments impose penalties on those who do not perform as they said they wanted to. What is important to understand is that the client chooses the form of commitment based on what is of value to them and their level of loss aversion. Independent referees are chosen by the client as a support system through the process. “When people view their behav­ iors as voluntary and not coerced, they conclude that they have come to these decisions by themselves and that their behaviors reflect their true motivations, their internal self, or self­concept.” (Lokhorst et al., 2013, p.21). n In part two of this article, we will explore how to familiarize clients to commitment strategy model, how to choose the best strategy for the client and how to identify a referee. We will also address commitment maintenance strategies and how clients can adopt these.

References Armhein, P.C. (2004). How Does Motivational Interviewing Work? What Client Talk Reveals. Journal of Cognitive Psychotherapy (18) 4 Dorotik-Nana, C. (2019). Transformation Specialist Certificate Program. Carpinteria, CA: International Sports Sciences Association LaMorte, W.W. (2019). Behavioral Change Models | The Transtheoretical Model (Stages of Change). Boston University School of Public Health Lokhorst, A.M., Werner, C., Staats, H., van Dijk E., & Gale, J.L. (2013). Commitment and Behavior Change: A Meta-Analysis and Critical Review of Commitment-Making Strategies in Environmental Research. Environment and Behavior 45(1):3-34 Miller, W.R. (1996). Motivational interviewing: Research, practice, and puzzles. Addictive Behaviors (21) 6 835-842 Miller, W.R., & Rollnick, S. (1991). Motivational interviewing: Preparing people to change addictive behavior. New York, NY: The Guilford Press

Resource The Positive Psychology Center Niki Tudge MBA PCBC-A CABC CDBC is the founder and president of the Pet Professional Guild, DogNostics Education and The DogSmith. She has substantial leadership experience in business management and administration, particularly in the nonprofit sector, which encompasses her role as the president of Doggone Safe, a nonprofit educational organization. She has published numerous articles, which have been featured in publications such as the New York Times. She has also authored five books; her most recent project, Pet Training and Behavior Consulting: A Model for Raising the bar to Protect Professionals, Pets and Their People, which she co-authored, was published in 2019. Before following her passion into small business and nonprofit management, she enjoyed a distinguished career in the hospitality industry, holding executive positions all over the world. Along with her business degrees from Oxford Brookes University in the U.K., her professional credentials include ISSA certified fitness trainer and ISSA certified transformation specialist coach. She is also Six Sigma Black Belt certified, specializing in data analysis and process improvement and is also an International Training Board (HCITB) certified people trainer at levels TS1, TS2 & TS3, and a certified facilitator and project manager. In addition, she was recognized for her outstanding contribution to the business community and honored with a Fortune 500 Company Leadership Award for her accomplishments.

HOST A WEBINAR FOR PPG! Want to Share Your Knowledge and Expertise? Showcasing the best of the pet industry to chat, chuckle and share Join hosts Niki Tudge and Louise Stapleton-Frappell with their special guests discussing news and views on force-free training, behavior, and pet care!

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Topics may include a particular aspect of training, ethology, learning theory, behavior specifics... anything at all your fellow pet professionals would find educational.

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Changing the World Inspired by her encounter with Keller’s Cause, a nonprofit that helps deaf and/or blind dogs fulfil their true potential, Heddie Leger realizes that we are all up to the collective challenge – or opportunity – of moving forward to the next level in our care and training of dogs


e all live in a world within a world. Each of us has the inherent ability to change and adapt, and we have unlimited opportu­ nities at our fingertips. We make thousands of minute deci­ sions that change our immediate environment every day. For instance, I open my eyes, raise my head, lower my feet to the floor, then con­ sciously move my feet to touch the floor, moving from a sitting position to a stand. I then decide what to do first. This is a simple step­by­step process before we start our day. If you think about it, that is eight deci­ sions before determining what to do next. I have changed my world in a few seconds before I even begin the day. Changing the world may be defined simply as changing the immedi­ ate environment. Consider all the little micro actions and decisions that take place in any given situation, and you will realize how you change the elements in your world on a regular basis. Now, consider adding in­ tentional purpose to accomplish change in some area of your life that will impact another life. It can be with any species. Many moons ago, as a young mom with two small children, I pon­ dered how to manage working and caring for my children. It was a bal­ ancing act at best. Add to that the fact that I had to be at my work location by 7 a.m. and my children didn’t need to arrive at school until 8 a.m. A dilemma faced by many working moms... What to do with the children for one hour before school and how to get them to school? At the time, before­ and after­school childcare was nonexistent. I had read one article and study on the topic. Other than that, there was no help available other than grandparents – which we did not have in the imme­ diate vicinity. You might wonder what this has to do with dog training and behavior consulting but bear with me.

Community I looked at the resources in my immediate area and began to put to­ gether a plan. Three of my friends who were in a similar situation joined me in my quest and we began to create a before­ and after­school pro­ gram concept. Public officials like the mayor, city council, school district, and a host of other professionals said it was “not needed” because “not enough women worked,” and that we were wasting our time. But we knew otherwise (I am dating myself here!). We started with our own re­ sources: in­kind contributions, such as books, toys, and creative grit. We finally convinced the school board and school district to provide an in­ kind contribution of space, since this is where the children needed to be when school started, hired a manager­caregiver, and the rest is history. Long story short, we became a model for other schools, communi­ ties, cities, and states to follow. History has a way of repeating itself. People can be ingenious when need be and no challenge is so great that it cannot be creatively overcome. So, you might still ask, what does this have to do with dog training? Let’s think about that now. We walk through the door into a client’s house, or they walk through the door of our facility. Over a dozen deci­ sions have already taken place between the human and the dog. I will not go into detail here, as I believe you know what I mean. We then progress to our skill set or plan of the session we hope to accomplish. Another set of decisions and interactions have taken place.


BARKS from the Guild/May 2021

© Can Stock Photo / Everst

Pet professionals can bring about change by working together to ensure every dog s given the chance to succeed within the limits of his capabilities

We have begun to change someone’s world. The human­animal bond has been reinforced, we have communicated the details of the exercise, and the team has taken steps to accomplish the set goal. Without getting into details or semantics, as that will vary from per­ son to person, or dog to dog, each interaction is changing someone’s world. This is important because if we are to succeed at training or be­ havior change, we need to be aware of the consequences of each of our interactions. As humans, we are not always terribly self­aware. It takes conscious effort to develop that skill. How many of us really think about it? What does it even mean to be self­aware? I think our dogs have a better handle on that than most humans! This is how we learn from our dogs. They teach us to be self­aware, because of who they are and who we need to be, if we are to help them and their humans succeed.

Special Needs Dogs A perfect example of this is the rescue group, Keller’s Cause. I came across this group recently, as I was helping a blind and deaf dog find his place in the world. I have found that there are not too many resources available to help those of us who work with special needs dogs. But when I came across Keller’s Cause, I found a caring, compassionate community, led by Amanda Fuller and Rose Adler, that was changing the world for deaf and/or blind dogs. Fuller and Adler immediately responded to my request and helped me realize there was hope for my pup. Deaf and blind dogs are often euthanized before they have a chance to experience life. When a

comment Changing the world of a dog does not take a miracle. It takes the ability to see the dog not only as he is, but as he can be. I challenge each reader to consider this amongst the many issues we face in the world of dogdom. breeder realizes a pup is deaf, blind, or both, they may consider them to be “worthless.” Meanwhile, when a pet guardian realizes their dog is not ignoring them, but cannot hear or see them, they may relinquish him to a shelter because they don’t know what else to do. But at Keller’s Cause, every dog has value and is given a chance to succeed within the limits of their capabilities. Both ladies are accomplished force­free, professional trainers that impart their knowledge in an unselfish manner for the sake of helping the dogs under their charge find loving and stable homes. They are changing the world of each dog. They are changing the concept of a special needs dog being worthless, seeing worth in each dog that crosses their path. They are training and competing with blind or deaf dogs in many venues. They are changing the world of blind and deaf dogs. In simple terms, they are changing the world. Each pet guardian or dog trainer can find value in each dog. Most will not be to the extreme of those that are saved at Keller’s Cause, but each dog has their own set of needs. Both Fuller and Adler first look to see clearly what each individual dog needs. While they do have a set protocol that is standard for each dog in the beginning, each dog is taken at their own merit and ability. For example, the dog I was working with had a compulsive behavior that needed addressing before he could be rehomed. Within a short pe­ riod of time, Fuller and Adler had identified a plan, contacted a veteri­ nary behaviorist and taken immediate steps to alleviate this condition. They also taught the dog the life skills he needed to live comfortably in his environment, such as encountering different surfaces, learning touch signals, scent signals, proper leash walking and a host of other behav­ iors necessary for him to be able to navigate the world.

Ripple Effect How many trainers are well versed enough to take on a dog in this situa­ tion? In my opinion, not many. But that is not the focus of this article. The focus is the fact. Keller’s Cause saw a need and decided to focus on that need, no matter what challenges it presented. If each of us will do that, we will find we can change the world, dog by dog, human by human, and each world we change creates a ripple effect. Changing the world of a dog does not take a miracle. It takes the ability to see the dog not only as he is, but as he can be. I challenge each reader to consider this amongst the many issues we face in the

world of dogdom. Rather than focus on the challenge, whatever it might be, instead focus on the opportunity it presents to improve life for dogs and the people that care for them. If our field is rescue, how can we network better? If it is dog training or behavior modification, how can we develop better understandings with veterinarians? If it is service dog legislation, how can we reach out to legislators to give them information and gain their attention? It requires each one of us working in our area of specialty making small incremental changes each day that will change the world for dogs to live harmoniously with humans. Each of us can change the world. There is a great need for professional guidelines and legislation to create a viable avenue for positive, force­free, reward­based trainers to be recognized as the experts they are when it comes to making an im­ pact on the lives of humans and their dogs. There is still much education that needs to take place. Inch by inch, step by step, human by human, we are moving in that direction. It will take a concentrated effort from all of us working together in a cohesive manner to move forward to this next level in our care and training of dogs. It is possible, if we work to­ gether, that we can change the world. It may seem like a monumental task, because it is, but I think we are up to the challenge. Or should I say, opportunity? n

Resources Keller’s Cause Heddie Leger is the owner/founder of Hero’s Hope and is a training coach with CampGoodStay in Camden, Tennessee, a full service canine coaching and pet care service. She is a certified humane educator, a therapy animal/instructor/evaluator, C.L.A.S.S. instructor/ --evaluator and CGC evaluator. Her passion for rehabilitating homeless and displaced dogs blossomed with her therapy dog, Hero, and developed into a full service program for rehabilitation of shelter dogs and people incarcerated in correctional facilities. Together, they received the Pet Partner finalist of the year, and Purina Service Team of the year award. She has worked in a collaborative effort with the Missouri Department of Corrections and local shelter/rescue groups to help facilitate a program that received the Governor’s Award for Innovative Programs. She was recently awarded the Director’s Coin of Excellence. She and her therapy dog, Hero, began the first reading programs with the Mid-Continent Public Library and the Kansas City Public Library systems. Those programs are still operating, as well as programs in the Liberty Public School District promoting literacy, humane treatment of animals and the importance of reading as a life skill. She is also a published author in several magazines as well as her book Hero to the Rescue, The Memoir of an Unlikely Hero.

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Rewarding Wanted Behavior In our ongoing series of PPG member profiles, this month we feature Lisa Hird of Dog Behaviour Clinic in Spalding, Lincolnshire, United Kingdom


isa Hird is joint principal and also a tutor at The International School for Canine Psychology and Behaviour, one of PPG’s corpo­ rate partners, and also runs her own dog behavior consultancy.

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: As a teenager I had wanted to become a vet. However, I soon real­ ized I would need to deal with euthanasia and animals in pain, so my thoughts soon shifted to behavior and training with a keen interest in supporting rescues. Over the years I spent practicing as a behavior consultant, I de­ cided that, by teaching students, I would be able to help far more dogs than I could hope to work with by myself. I am now both tutor and joint principal of The International School for Canine Psychology and Behaviour as well as running my own dog behavior business. Q: Why did you become a trainer/pet care provider? A: To try to improve welfare and understanding between companion dogs and their caregivers. I also had a keen interest in supporting res­ cues in behavior work, to help find suitable homes for dogs. Q: Tell us a little bit about your own pets. A: I have a 9­year­old Staffordshire bull terrier called Jack and a 4­ year­old German shepherd called Freya. Both are rescue dogs. Q: What is your favorite part of your job? A: Getting updates on how dogs are continuing to progress.

© Lisa Hird

Lisa Hird with canine friend, Tia

Q: What do you consider to be your area of expertise? A: Reactive dogs.

“Dogs are sentient beings…They rely on humans for virtually everything so it is our duty to ensure their lives are fulfilled and are stress-, anxiety- and fear-free.” - Lisa Hird

Q: Are you a crossover trainer or have you always been a force‐free trainer? A: I have always used force­free methods.

her books, watching her DVDs and attending in­person training. She is probably the greatest influence on my career, along with Grisha Stewart.

Q: What are some of your favorite positive reinforcement techniques for the most commonly encountered behavior issues? A: Clicker training is amazing. It is so easy to reward wanted behavior. Q: What is the reward you get out of a day's training with people and their pets?: A: Seeing the relationship and communication between dog and care­ giver improve dramatically. Q: Who has most influenced your career and how? A: Suzanne Clothier with her relationship­centered approach — reading

“Over the years I spent practicing as a behavior consultant, I decided that, by teaching students, I would be able to help far more dogs than I could hope to work with by myself.” - Lisa Hird


BARKS from the Guild/May 2021

Q: What drives you to be a force‐free professional and why is it impor‐ tant to you? A: Force­free is essential. Dogs are sentient beings. They experience so many emotions and are very much captive animals in our homes. They rely on humans for virtually everything so it is our duty to ensure their lives are fulfilled and are stress­, anxiety­ and fear­free. Q: What advice would you give to a new trainer starting out? A: Make sure you shadow a positive, force­free trainer. Q: How has PPG helped you to become a more complete trainer? A: The Project Trade initiative has helped me promote force­free meth­ ods. n

Dog Behaviour Clinic is located in Spalding, Lincolnshire, United Kingdom

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There Is No Excuse


It’s time to ban shock collars I would say that, as with any helping professional, your first and primary obligation is to do no harm, and we have compelling evidence that applying shock, either systematically or randomly, to domestic dogs increases their general level of stress and discomfort. So given that knowledge, there simply is no ethical rationale for using it. Janis Bradley,

Director of Communications and Publications, National Canine Research Council

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

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

Author, Train Your Dog Like a Pro

Articles inside

Heddie Leger realizes that we are all up to the collective challenge – or opportunity – of moving forward to the next level in our care and training of dogs

pages 62-64

walk on a loose leash

pages 44-47


pages 60-61

you have too much to do

pages 54-59

subtle of environmental triggers

page 43

animals are telling us via their body language

page 53

anxiety- and pain-induced, dog-directed aggression

pages 40-42

prevent separation anxiety

pages 34-39

dog’s behavior

pages 32-33

Tamsin Durston discusses delivering agility or sports dog training classes from a behavioral perspective to ensure both dog and handler can thrive

pages 22-27

in how to develop training and management strategies

pages 28-31

White House dogs about training gear

page 13

First Dogs adapt to their new home

pages 14-21


pages 6-11

Podcast, Project Trade, workshops, webinars, and podcasts

page 12
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