BARKS from the Guild November 2016

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© Can Stock Photo Inc./AntonioGravante

BARKS from the Guild

Issue No. 21 / November 2016

CANINE The Benefits of Dog Sports

TRAINING Frustration and Fine Tuning

INTERVIEW Mapping the Canine Genome FELINE What’s Wrong with Crating?

AVIAN Changing Antecedent Set-Ups EQUINE Overcoming Hoof Trim Anxiety TRENDS A Life Changing Experience at Best Friends

Space Invaders

Rethinking Instant Access: A Dog’s Right to Personal Space A Force-Free Publication from the Pet Professional Guild: By the Members for the Members


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

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

The Guild Steering Committee Kelly Fahey, Carole Husein, Rebekah King, Debra Millikan, Susan Nilson, Stephanie Presdee, Claire Staines, Louise Stapleton-Frappell, Angelica Steinker, Niki Tudge, Sam Wike BARKS from the Guild Published bi-monthly, BARKS from the Guild presents a collection of valuable business and technical articles as well as reviews and news stories pertinent to our industry. BARKS is the official publication of the Pet Professional Guild.

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

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

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

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


From the Editor

e’ve all seen the photos of children hugging unhappy looking dogs, or the YouTube videos where a child is climbing all over the dog along with laughter and comments about how “cute” it is or how the dog “loves it.” As professionals in behavior and training it can be hard to watch, and if ones dares to comment to the contrary… well, one might say that the responses are not always “force-free.” This all makes our cover story this month especially pertinent as PPG continues to strive in its mission to educate the pet owning public about canine body language and facial expression with the goal of reducing the number of dog bites. Personal space is a concept that, in general, humans are quite aware of within the parameters of individual preference, age, gender, and culture. German psychologist David Katz referred to this as a “bubble,” and everybody has one. Often, but not always, this is understood and respected between people. But what about dogs? Many people think nothing of approaching a random dog they meet in the street/park/hiking trail/parking lot full on, talking loudly, patting the dog on his head or wherever else they please, with no notion of how uncomfortable the dog might feel about this. Fortunately, many dogs will tolerate their discomfort, but others will not. If pushed over threshold there is, of course, the risk of a bite. Understanding owners may pre-empt the situation by politely asking people not to approach but that doesn’t always work. Our cover story goes into depth about how we, as humans, typically do not respect dogs' space bubbles to the degree they would probably prefer, and the assumptions many people automatically make when approaching a dog, known or unknown, at their own risk. It’s a fascinating read. Also in this issue we feature the benefit of dog sports for all, whether old, young, large, small, deaf or hearing, and detail the life changing experience of one writer who volunteered for a time at a well-known animal sanctuary. We also delve back into the world of doggy day cares and point out the red flags owners need to look for when making their selection. In terms of training we focus on canine frustration, identifying and using positive reinforcers with exotic animals, and how working across the species can be so incredibly educational. Dogs aside, our feline section questions the practice of crating cats as a tool in behavior modification, the avian section discusses how changing the antecedent set-up can sometimes be a “quick fix,” and the equine section details the fascinating tale of a horse who overcame anxiety over hoof trims via positive reinforcement training. Also in this issue we take a look at how best to read scientific studies, as well as the need for pet professionals to be able to relate to their human clients, not just the animals under their charge. Finally, we feature an intriguing interview with one of the developers of a canine DNA test and talk about the impact it could have on the lives of dogs, their owners, and canine behavior professionals. Meanwhile, it’s already November - which means it’s time for the PPG Summit! I hope to see you there – have a wonderful, educational and fun time and don’t forget to come and say hello! BARKS from the Guild/November 2016

n Susan Nilso



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BARKS from the Guild/November 2016

© Can Stock Photo Inc./AntonioGravante





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Photo: Denise Adleman


NEWS AND EDUCATION Open Letter to the pet industry regarding the use of shock, PPG World Service, webinars and workshops, Project Trade, PPG apparel, the Official PPG Summit Guide and more EVENTS Susan Nilson reports on the PPGBI Mini Summit and the PPG Virtual Pet Care Summit THE INEFFICACY OF BSL Excerpts from PPG’s Position Statement on Breed Specific Legislation and Members’ Gallery of Dog Photos SPACE INVADERS Eileen Anderson argues that we can do much better at respecting a dog’s need for personal space and explains why we should think twice before assuming instant access BUILDING CONFIDENCE Angelica Steinker highlights the benefits of dog sports for pet dogs, owners and trainers alike THE ULTIMATE IN TEAMWORK Morag Heirs provides a host of training tips for canicross with deaf dogs MAPPING THE FUTURE Susan Nilson speaks to Embark founder, Ryan Boyko about the company’s new canine DNA test A JOURNEY OF THE HEART Diane Garrod shares her life-changing experiences volunteering at Best Friends Animal Society in Utah SKILLS FOR LIFE Kama Brown introduces a selection of games to help prevent canine frustration and support physical health FINE TUNING THE TRAINING APPROACH Lara Joseph explains how to identify and use positive reinforcers with exotic animals LEARNING FROM THE ANIMALS Barbara Wright shares her experiences training chickens, hamsters, cockatiels, horses, dogs and more RAISING THE RED FLAG Nikki Sherwin details why owners should view aversive methods and gear as red flags when considering doggy day care options CRATE HATE Jane Ehrlich sets out the reasons why she does not regard crating as a valid tool in feline behavior modification A QUICK FIX Vicki Ronchette explains why changing antecedent set-ups can sometimes help achieve an immediate behavior change PERFORMANCE ANXIETY Kathie Gregory explains how she helped her horse overcome extreme anxiety over hoof trims EVALUATING RESEARCH Patience Fisher looks into the limitations of scientific studies, and highlights ways to help readers be more aware of what to look for THE PEOPLE FACTOR Niki Tudge highlights the need to be able to train, coach and mentor both people and pets for industry professionals PROFILE: A SPECIAL LEGACY Featuring Barbara Hodel of Goodog Positive Dog Training in Bayview, New South Wales, Australia BOOK REVIEW: AN ESSENTIAL RESOURCE Niki Tudge reviews ‘How to Right a Dog Gone Wrong’ by Pamela Dennison


© Can Stock Photo Inc./okssi68




PPG Releases Open Letter Addressing Industry Responses to Garmin Shock Collar


PG has called on pet industry professionals to take a stand on the use and application of shock in animal training, to work together to educate pet owners in humane, scientifically sound training methods, and to take shock off the table once and for all. The call comes in the wake of the release of navigation provider, Garmin’s Delta Smart™ Dog Training System, a device that delivers remote corrections to dogs when connected to a smartphone, but also the response from some professional pet industry groups and associations relating to this equipment. PPG’s Open Letter states: “Industry associations play a critical role in establishing and recommending best practices, education, leadership and technical standards in any given industry and, as such, PPG takes very seriously its obligation to fulfil this role by taking a transparent and consistent position on important and urgent issues such as training practices and equipment use, as stated in its Guiding Principles. “In the 21st century, can there really still be a debate over the issue of using pain as a “method” of animal training? Decades of peer reviewed, scientific studies show, whether discussing dogs, humans, dolphins or elephants, that shock as a form of training to teach or correct a behavior is ineffective at best and physically and psychologically damaging at worst. Instead, humane and effective animal training procedures lay the foundation for any animal’s healthy socialization and training, and help avoid the onset of behavioral issues. “The general pet-owning public must be better served by professional organizations and associations to ensure pets live in nurturing and stable environments where they are able to maintain a positive emotional state and feel safe which will, in turn, play a significant role in preventing behavior problems. Since its inception in 2012, it has been PPG’s position that “the use of electronic stimulation, or “shock” or “e-collars,” to train and/or modify the behavior of pet animals is simply not necessary. For the purposes of this statement, electronic stimulation devices include products often referred to as: e-collars, training collars, e-

touch, stimulation, tingle, TENS unit collar and remote trainer.” “Applying an electric shock to an animal via the Garmin Delta system - or any other pain inflicting device - provides no effective strategy for an animal to learn a new or alternative behavior; it simply inflicts pain and risks making the animal fearful, anxious and/or aggressive. This is one of the many reasons shock devices should be off the table when it comes to training pets. It is time that all pet professionals and associations collaborate on this central issue and start making real progress on education and advocacy to reach the end goal of eliminating the use of shock altogether. “Some of the recent open letters and position statements published by professional pet associations focus on criticism of the Garmin equipment and its function, for example, in terms of latency, i.e. the timing between the behavior and the punishment, rather than the much more deeply seated problem: its philosophy. Why focus on the poor design traits of a piece of equipment or wireless training mechanics that may be defective instead of taking a stance against shock collar training once and for all? Similarly, some organizations have released position statements recommending against using the collars without the guidance of an experienced trainer. In other words, they deem it acceptable to administer an electric shock to an animal in the guise of training, as long as there is a trainer present.” The document goes on with a call to action, urging “fellow industry professionals and associations, animal welfare organizations and professional animal training and behavior bodies worldwide to stand together and collectively reach out and engage and educate pet owners in the implementation and practice of humane, kind and effective training methods rather than rely on aversive means, to embrace scientific training methods, and publicly say NO to methods that cause pain or fear administered via equipment that delivers electric shocks.” To read the full Open Letter, see

PG has a variety of graphics available in the members section of the website, designed to help members promote their businesses and help to spread the Force-Free message. Log in and go to to download your bumper sticker (pictured below), vertical banner (pictured right), bookmark, and No Pain No Force No Fear logo.

Go to the link to access the high resolution PDF artwork. Members feel free to grab and share. Help us shape the future. Get involved with PPG, some exciting times ahead!

Artwork for Members



BARKS from the Guild/November 2016

PPG Releases Official 2016 Summit Guide


PPG Revamps Advocacy Committee


PG has added a host of new names to its advocacy committee as it prepares for a major push next year to work on a number of important goals addressing the use of shock as a training tool in the pet industry. The committee now boasts 23 members, all passionate about the mission. They are: Niki Tudge, Tamra Temple, Anne Springer, Sam Wike, Don Hanson, Angelica Schmitz Steinker, Stephanie Presdee, Carolyn Kocman, Susan Nilson, Louise Stapleton-Frappell, Carole Husein, Claire Staines, Michelle Frumento, Lynn Honeckman, Rebekah King, Renee Erdman, Tracy Krulik, Kathrine Breeden, Daniel Antolec, Francine Miller, Kelly Fahey, Debra Millikan and Ruby Williams. Further details will be revealed in due course.

Members’ Cat Behavior Facebook Group


o you have a question about feline behavior? Would you like to learn more about cats? The PPG Cat Committee closed Facebook group PPG All About Cats, for PPG members only, is exactly what you need! The group discusses various feline related topics, and answers questions about cat behavior, environmental enrichment, behavior problems, nutrition and more. Search on Facebook for PPG All About Cats, ask to join, and join the discussion! Recent topics discussed include food puzzle toys, foraging felines, educational courses on cat behavior, litter box issues, personality, and much more.


he Official Summit Guide for #PPGSummit 2016 has been released. It includes complete details of the presenters and presentations, exhibiting vendors, location and venue, transportation and much more. Summit attendees will receive a printed copy upon registration, as well as a separate document with the daily schedule of presentations. View and download a copy at www.issuu .com/petprofessionalguild/docs/ppg_official _summit_guide_2016__onl/1. PPG’s second educational Summit is taking place at the Sheraton Tampa East hotel on Monday, November 7 - Friday, November 11, 2016. At the time of going to press there were still a few spots available for last minute bookers. For more details, see

PPG Launches New T-Shirt, Hoodie Campaign


PPG President to Present at 2017 Dog Bite Conference


PG president Niki Tudge has confirmed she will be presenting at Victoria Stilwell’s 2017 UK Dog Bite Prevention and Behaviour Conference taking place on the weekend of June 24-25 at the south London campus of Kingston University. Tudge confirmed she will focus on the updated and expanded Be A TreeTM program (that will be rolled out early next year) in a presentation titled How Professionals Can Teach Children to Be Doggone Safe - The Fun Way To Learn! “It is very exciting to be a part of this top class event,” said Tudge. “Education is one of PPG’s key goals and the revamped Be A TreeTM program will be an excellent tool to educate both adults and children about canine body language and help prevent dog bites.” For more information, see -uk-dog-bite-prevention-behaviour-conference.

PG has launched a new No Pain No Force No Fear apparel campaign via a new store front at Teespring. T-shirts and hoodies are available in a variety of colors. Get your orders in at /en-GB/stores/the-pet -professional-guild.

BARKS from the Guild/November 2016



Project Trade Announces August Ambassador, More Gear Exchanged


inning Project Trade participants found themselves in a three-way tie in August. A winner was thus selected at random and as previously decided, got the $100 credit. The two remaining participants received a $25 credit. The winning Project Trade ambassador for August is Erica Beckwith of A Matter of Manners Dog Training, www, in New Mexico, USA, who collected two prong collars and one shock collar. Fellow winning participants were Elizabeth Sandoval of Stay Positive Animal Training, in Texas, USA, who collected three choke chains, and Daniel Antolec of Happy Buddha Dog Training,, in southern Wisconsin who collected three shock collars. Congratulations to all! If you would like to participate in Project Trade, you can apply at For more details on Project Trade, see

The aversive gear exchanged under Project Trade by PPG members Elizabeth Sandoval (left), Erica Beckwith (center) and Daniel Antolec (right)

Sam Wike Joins PPG Steering Committee


am Wike of The Inner Dog,, in Long Branch, New Jersey has joined the PPG steering committee. Wike is a successful trainer and behavior consultant endorsed by Victoria Stilwell Positively Dog Training and the Best Friends Animal Society Community Training Partner program, and is also a behavior consultant to the Monmouth County, New Jersey SPCA and local rescue groups. He provides The Art of the Dog and Talking Dog seminars to shelters, rescues, boarding and day care facilities and community groups, teaching canine communication, and has presented semi-annual presentations titled How to Safely Enjoy the Dog Park for the Monmouth Sam Wike has County Parks System. He is also joined PPG’s the volunteer coordinator at steering committee the PPG Summit.


BARKS from the Guild/November 2016

Behavior Conference Invites PPG Members


he Clinical Animal Behavior Conference is taking place at the Oquendo Center in Las Vegas on December 9-11, 2016 and hoping PPG members will be able to participate. "One of this meeting's biggest missions is to bring all veterinarians who have an interest in behavior, their technicians, their staff, as well as professional dog trainers together as a team," said Fiia Jokela DVM, special interest in veterinary behavior. “Our unity will bring more to our clients and their pets than any of us apart. “This is a wonderful conference to network and learn. Both [PPG special counsel member] Lynn Honeckman and I will be there and we would love to see more trainers join us. There will also be opportunities to meet and talk with several board certified veterinary behaviorists. So we want to send a warm welcome to the PPG membership to consider this meeting. This year the focus is on prevention and early recognition of behavior problems in puppies, kittens and birds. We are calling it behavior vaccination! We have some great speakers and hands-on wet labs.” For more details, see


PPG World Service Radio Show Schedule


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

Wednesday, November 2, 2016 - Noon (EDT) Jean Donaldson: Why Breed Specific Legislation does not work and proposed approaches to help lower the incidence of dog bites. Register at: Sunday, December 4, 2016 - Noon (EST) Victoria Stilwell: Standing against Breed Specific Legislation and saving seized fighting dogs. Janis Bradley: Why Breed Specific Legislation does not work and why. Register at:

Sunday, February 5, 2017 - Noon (EST) Kamal Fernandez: Living with high drive dogs in domestic situations and the effective use of toys as rewards. Lori Nanan: Breed Specific Legislation and future plans for Your Pit Bull and You, an educational resource for dog owners of all breeds. Register at:

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

Earn Your CEUs via PPG’s Workshop and Webinar Program! Workshops

The Gift of a Gray Muzzle: Active Care for Senior Dogs with Kathy Sdao and Lori Stevens (Tampa, Florida) Saturday, February 18, 2017 - 8:30 a.m. (EST) Sunday, February 19, 2017 - 4:30 p.m. (EST) Foundation Skills for Dog Sports and Heel Work 101 with Kamal Fernandez (Tampa, Florida) Saturday, March 18, 2017 - 9 a.m. (EDT) Sunday, March 19, 2017 - 4:30 p.m. (EDT) Clicker Training for Advanced Competition Obedience, Proofing, Ring Prep and Competition with Kamal Fernandez (Tampa, Florida) Saturday, March 25, 2017 - 9 a.m. (EDT) Sunday, March 26, 2017 - 4:30 p.m. (EDT)

Cat Webinars

Low Stress Cat Handling for Veterinarians, Shelter Staff and Cat Owners with Paula Garber Wednesday, December 7, 2016 - 12 p.m. - 1 p.m. (EST)

Webinars TrickMeister Journeyman - The Comprehensive Dog Training Course with Louise Stapleton-Frappell (1 of 3) Tuesday, November 1, 2016 - 1 p.m. (EDT) Setting Clients Up for Success with Alexandra Santos Wednesday, November 2, 2016 - 3 p.m. (EDT) Animal Emotions - Your Guide to a Happier Pet and a Better Relationship with Karolina Westlund Saturday, November 5, 2016 - 2 p.m. (EDT) Fun Scent Games Level 2 Instructor Certification Program with Angelica Steinker (1 of 2) Tuesday, November 22, 2016 - 1 p.m. (EST)

Go Full Time: Making Your Night Job Your Day Job with Veronica Boutelle Monday, November 28, 2016 - 2 p.m. (EST) Fun Scent Games Level 2 Instructor Certification Program with Angelica Steinker (2 of 2) Tuesday, November 29, 2016 - 1 p.m. (EST) TrickMeister Journeyman - The Comprehensive Dog Training Course with Louise Stapleton-Frappell (2 of 3) Thursday, December 1, 2016 - 1 p.m. (EST) The Human Factor in Pet Behavior with Karen Wild Friday, December 2, 2016 - 1 p.m. (EST) TrickMeister Journeyman - The Comprehensive Dog Training Course with Louise Stapleton-Frappell (3 of 3) Tuesday, January 3, 2017 - 1 p.m. (EST) The Effective Use of Toys as Rewards with Kamal Fernandez Thursday, January 12, 2017 - 1 p.m. (EST) Contract Management with Niki Tudge* Thursday, January 19, 2017 - 12 p.m. (EST) *Free member webinar Errorless Learning: Setting Up For Success with Kate Mallatratt Friday, February 3, 2017 - 1 p.m. (EST) Details of all upcoming workshops can be found at:

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

BARKS from the Guild/November 2016



PPG Hosts Inaugural Virtual Pet Care Summit


Susan Nilson reports on PPG’s first ever online educational event

he Virtual Pet Care Summit, which took place over two days in early August, marked two firsts for PPG - it was the first ever event to take place completely online, and the first ever event dedicated to pet care professionals. Altogether, 26 hours of virtual webinars were featured on two tracks, covering a range of pet care topics such as health and force-free handling for cats and dogs, how to walk dogs positively and manage multiple dogs, canine and feline behavior and social communication, appropriate canine play, how animals learn, dog bite safety, managing a dog day care facility, and a host of business and marketing options for small business owners. The inception of the Virtual Pet Care Summit reflects the growing numbers of PPG members who work in the field of pet

care, including kennel technicians, groomers, pet sitters, dog walkers, day care operators, veterinary assistants, student dog trainers, animal shelter employees, and dog trainers. “PPG launched the Virtual Pet Care Summit in direct response to the growing numbers of pet care professionals joining the organization to ensure we provide them with access to the best educational resources possible,” said PPG founder and president, Niki Tudge. “There is also a great need in the market for a range of force-free educational options to increase awareness amongst those working in the field of pet care - as well as pet owners themselves - that there are kinder, more effective alternatives to restraint or aversive handling techniques.” n

What They Said: Just a Few of the Many PPG Virtual Summit Highlights

“Social behavior is important because it provides relatively reliable predictions about the near-future behavior of the dog; identifies triggers for problem behaviors; gives reasons as to what may be encouraging a behavior; and helps you judge whether your behavior is causing stress for a dog.” - Angelica Steinker

“Pet Professionals have to be experts in body language – different species have different languages.We have to continue learning the language of each species.We may be working with an animal who hasn’t developed body language skills in which case we have to help build them.Trust is a crucial part of every relationship.” - Lori Stevens

“Cats’ sense of smell is around 20 times better than humans’. It helps cats avoid potentially dangerous encounters despite visual or auditory barriers, identify, claim, and challenge territory, establish familiarity, and communicate sexual receptivity.” - Paula Garber

“During the time the pet is in your care you have an obligation to monitor its well-being: Regardless of where the pet is, their owners are missing and their world has still changed.” - Niki Tudge

“Dogs in boarding can grow sick of being away from home and in playgroups for long periods. I recommend boarding only happen in smaller, rural facilities. Large urban day cares should focus on retail or grooming.” - Tristan Flynn

“When managing multiple dogs the human’s role is one of referee: Keep an eye on the dogs at all times, schedule frequent breaks, remain attentive and stay calm. Don’t use the dog’s name as a reprimand.” - Kathy Sdao

“Recognizing that animals have emotions is important because animal feelings matter.They are sentient beings who experience the ups and downs of daily life, and we must respect this when we interact with them.” - Maxwell Muir

“Why do dogs bark? A sound trigger, a dog barking outside, a visual trigger, a strange person or dog, demand barking, anxiety, or boredom.” Wes Anderson

“Every time you see a dog handled or restrained in the veterinary hospital or grooming salon, pet professionals should think of ways of improving the situation. Make a difference for those who are in your care. Stimulate the five senses in all pet care facilities!” - Liz Geisen

“Clients are people, with feelings.We may passionately disagree with how they have handled situations, but our clients’ behavior should not govern our reactions.We have a choice to be kind and compassionate. That compassion extends to the animal.They deserve our empathy, that we try to understand what it feels like to be scared, anxious, uncertain.” - Yvette Van Veen

“Working in the pet care industry involves knowing much more than how to care for a pet. Clients expect you to know about a pet’s health needs, vaccination schedules, and nutritional care and also about pet care tools, equipment and toys.You should also have knowledge of basic canine (or feline) communication so that you are able to recognize a pet’s emotional state.” - Louise Stapleton-Frappell

“Pocket pets have many different types of nutritional needs. Pet stores market foods for animals that are not appropriate for them. Do your research! And remember, all animals benefit from enrichment. Activities for small pets can help them come out of their shells.” - Emily Cassell

“In the world of the pet care professional today, there is a necessity to become adept business people, to work ON your business, and not just in it. Know who are your clients and why they need you.” - Kimberly Burgan

“Channeling sales anxiety: Don’t “sell.” Solve problems. Help people get what they want/need.” - John Visconti

All webinars featured at PPG’s Virtual Pet Care Summit were recorded and are now available for purchase for just $20 each. See for more details. 10

BARKS from the Guild/November 2016


PPGBI Holds First Ever UK Summit


Susan Nilson reports from the Pet Professional Guild British Isles’ inaugural gathering in Leeds, England

et Professional Guild British Isles (PPGBI) held its first official gathering in Leeds, England on September 10-11, 2016. The introductory event offered PPGBI members the perfect opportunity to meet and network with their peers, as well as meet representatives from both the PPGBI and PPG steering committees. The meeting also featured an excellent line-up of presenters - PPG president, Niki Tudge, PPGBI membership manager and organizer, Louise Stapleton-Frappell, PPG steering committee member, Angelica Steinker, renowned gun dog trainer, Helen Phillips and human resources specialist, Susan Winter - to ensure the education on offer was at the highest level. In her opening address, Tudge emphasized the importance of PPG providing all members with the tools they need to promote their businesses and therefore help a greater number of pets. “As a non-profit, our ultimate goal is to make it easier for our members to do business,” she said. “We aim to engage, educate and empower. Everyone’s definition of force is different, but from PPG’s standpoint anything that causes pain or fear is off the table. No shock, no choke, no prong: these are absolute non-negotiables. At PPG we advocate for those who cannot advocate for themselves. I don’t believe anyone should be working in this industry if they cannot read a dog to know whether that dog is uncomfortable or not. This is all about the animals. Everything we do is backed up by science but at the same time we have to be creative in the way we work. It is essential we demonstrate what force-free training methods can achieve. We must remain positive and lead by example. If people know better they will do better. ” Topics discussed over the weekend covered a wide range, including business, marketing, recruiting, emotional learning in dogs, consent and preference testing, the fun of gun dog training, errorless learning, clicker training, canine body language and facial expression, extinction, emotional memory, aggression, anxiety, fear, emotional and mood states, flooding, shaping, luring, learning theory, the four quadrants, emotional contagion, behavior myopia, reinforcement schedules and everything in between. For highlights of the presentations and more photos, see PPG’s Facebook page, One of the many memorable moments of the weekend was

Everyone’s a winner in the PPG tattoo (inset) contest


BARKS from the Guild/November 2016

undoubtedly the PPG tattoo competition, which awarded prizes for the most creative bodily placement of the No Pain, No Force, No Fear tattoo. In the end, it was too difficult for judges Niki Tudge and Angelica Steinker to make a decision so everyone was declared a winner (see photo bottom left). “It was wonderful to get to know so many PPGBI members, many of whom commented that they had never attended such a friendly event and that they were made to feel very welcome,” said Stapleton-Frappell. “All went home with a mixture of PPG goodies, including everything from No Pain, No Force, No Fear bumper stickers, to PPG clickers, pens, caps and informational vet tri-folds. Books, DVDs, flirt-poles, tug toys, Perfect Fit harnesses and much more were purchased, and lots of information was shared, as our vendors Victoria Stilwell Positively, Dog Games Ltd. and Positive Animal Solutions made sure no one went home empty-handed.We now have to make the difficult decision as to when and where to schedule the event next year as everyone was clamoring for it to be in their part of the country! “I would like to thank the Leeds Mercure Parkway hotel, the presenters, the PPG administration team, the trade exhibitors, PPGBI steering committee members Carole Hussein and Stephanie Presdee - and an especially big thank you to all attending PPGBI members - for their incredible support at our first ever event in the region and for helping to make it such a roaring success!” n PPG president, Niki Tudge: “Know what you don’t know then seek out the knowledge and skills.”

Angelica Steinker demonstrates how to perform a preference test, with a little help from Paco: “Preference testing helps build reinforcement history.”


Helen Phillips: “The first step is your connection with the dog. Gun dog training is one big game. If it’s too serious you need to take a step back.”

Angelica Steinker: “Reading facial expression is a huge part of what we do. Dogs have more facial muscles than humans - they are there for a reason.”

Stephanie Chamings (left) of Dog Games Ltd.

Louise Stapleton-Frappell: “To condition empowerment, teach pets they can operate safely within their environment, share fun experiences, avoid frustration, aversives, punishment, and use safety signals to minimize stress.”

Susan Winter: “You’ll never have a second chance to create a first impression. Certain factors trigger us positively and negatively. Be aware of your own bias and remain open.”

Attendees prepare to get started on Day One

Karen Backhouse (left) of Positive Animal Solutions

PPGBI membership manager, Louise Stapleton-Frappell (left) and PPG membership manager, Rebekah King open the registration

PPGBI Mini Summit attendees relax in the bar during the welcome cocktail

William Brown and Kathy Berner with Sean

Angelica Steinker (front) highlights the difference between emotions (respondent) and feelings (operant) Jo Pay (left) of Victoria Stilwell Positively

Ewa Highland (left), Louise StapletonFrappell (center) and Rebekah King Stephanie Rose Chamings and Paco

James (owner Ewa Highland)

BARKS from the Guild/November 2016



The Inefficacy of BSL

PPG is watching closely developments in Montreal, Canada on the proposed ban of “pit

bull type dogs,” which came into effect at the beginning of October but was suspended indefinitely two days later, and has added its voice to the many canine behavior

professionals and animal welfare organizations who have issued statements indicating


why Breed Specific Legislation is ineffective. Here are some excerpts from PPG’s

Position Statement on Breed Specific Legislation


Photo of Cooper: Kelly Fahey

he Pet Professional Guild (PPG) is be- Force-free, science based training. coming increasingly alarmed at the - Ensuring that dogs are paired within number of dogs being seized or banned in appropriate households. a variety of communities worldwide based purely on their breed or appearance, alBSL Defined legedly in the interest of public safety. At BSL (also known as Breed Discriminatory the same time, there is little, if any, assessLegislation) is a law or legal ordinance that ment of an individual dog’s behavior or enrestricts or prohibits the ownership of cervironment, their owners’ knowledge of tain breeds (or types) of dogs. In places canine behavior and training, and/or their where BSL has been implemented it varies suitability as a dog guardian. from a complete ban of certain types of PPG holds that Breed Specific Legisladogs to regulations imposing restrictions on tion (BSL) such as this paints an unjust picownership and special requirements includture of certain breeds of dogs and punishes ing, but not limited to, mandatory muzzling; responsible dog guardians unnecessarily. leash laws; special ‘housing’ (for example, PPG considers BSL to be ineffective in dog fully enclosed cages); chaining; minimal wall bite prevention and the safety of the public enclosure height; mandatory microchipping; at large, and opposes any law or regulation tattoos; registration documents; mandatory that discriminates against dogs based spay/neuter policies; yearly veterinary purely on breed or appearance. Rather checks and reports stating the animal has no than approach the issues of dog bite predisease or injury that could make him/her Breed Specific Legislation does not take into vention and public safety via such unsatis‘especially’ dangerous; prohibited access to account a dog’s behavior, owner or home factory means, PPG is of the opinion that public spaces especially, but not limited to, environment and depends, more subjectively, on appearance alone educating pet industry professionals, pet those frequented by children; transfer or dog guardians, and the general public in canine cognition, comsale notification requirements; and registration of the dog on munication, and the use of science-based, force-free pet care and local, provincial and national registries. Other requirements relattraining methods are by far the most effective means of reducing ing to the owner/ handler may include minimum age; proof of dog bites and ensuring greater public safety. mental and physical capacity; lack of criminal record; special ‘danPPG recognizes that any size or type of dog can bite. Breed, gerous dog’ handler’s license; civil responsibility insurance; and however, is not a good predictor. proof of training. Note that this list is not exhaustive as the laws PPG holds that a neutral approach should be taken to evaluand restrictions vary from country to country, state to state, and ate dogs on an individual basis, focusing on behavior and environ- county to county. ment, rather than appearance. Singling out specific breeds as dangerous provides the public with an unfair perception of those Which Breeds Are Most Often Affected by BSL? dogs while potentially creating a false sense of safety as far as Regulated breeds usually comprise “pit bull” type dogs. However, other dogs are concerned. PPG believes instead that a combinathe breeds targeted vary in different countries and even in differtion of the following is needed in order to reduce the number of ent states or counties within the same country. American pit bull dog inflicted bites: terriers, American Staffordshire terriers, American bulldogs, Public education. Staffordshire bull terriers and English bull terriers are often inOwner education. cluded in the “pit bull group,” wherein the term “pit bull” is used Shelter and rescue organization education. generically for a number of closely related breeds such as these. Positive, early socialization. In some cases, too, dogs who are thought to resemble a pit bull BARKS from the Guild/November 2016

are inaccurately labeled, based purely on their appearance. Other breeds that often find themselves the target of BSL include Rottweilers, mastiffs, chow chows, German shepherds and Doberman pinschers. In Europe, the filo Brasileiro, dogo Argentino, presa Canaria and Japanese tosa are included on many of the lists of dogs affected by breed discriminatory laws. The laws usually target any dog that resembles the listed breed so are ‘type’ specific rather than truly ‘breed’ specific.

Are Breed-Specific Laws Effective?

BSL can and does result in the destruction of dogs. Research, however, would suggest that there is no evidence to support claims that BSL makes communities safer for people or companion animals. Indeed, there is little, if any, evidence to support any claims that BSL has reduced the number of dog bites. [For examples, see PPG’s full Position Statement on Breed Specific Legislation].

Who Is Getting Bitten and Why?

Statistics show that the majority of dog bites occur in children or the elderly. A lack of appropriate care, supervision and mistreatment of the dog were key components in many dog bite occurrences. According to the NCRC, Patronek et al. identified “a striking co-occurrence of multiple, controllable factors: no ablebodied person being present to intervene (87.1 per cent); the victim having no familiar relationship with the dog(s) (85.2 per cent); the dog(s) owner failing to neuter/spay the dog(s) (84.4 per cent); a victim’s compromised ability, whether based on age or physical condition, to manage their interactions with the dog(s) (77.4 per cent); the owner keeping dog(s) as resident dog(s), rather than as family pet(s) (76.2 per cent); the owner’s prior mismanagement of the dog(s) (37.5 per cent); and the owner’s abuse or neglect of dog(s) (21.1 per cent). Four or more of these factors were present in 80.5 per cent of cases; breed was not one of those factors.” (NCRC, 2013).

Education,Training and Welfare

Taking all the above into account, PPG believes that increasing public safety and continuing to reduce the number of bites is of the utmost importance and that, while canine behavior is complex, many dog bite incidents could be prevented if pet guardians, trainers and legislators were better informed about canine communication and how to act safely around dogs. Canine signs of stress and anxiety can sometimes be subtle, but a greater knowledge of how dogs communicate and how our interactions with them can lead to a greater risk of bites is key to tackling bite prevention. The importance of this education goes hand-in-hand with positive management strategies; early socialization, as outlined in PPG’s Puppy Socialization Check List, to prepare pets for successful future encounters with people, dogs, new environments and other animals; ensuring that dogs are paired with the appropriate owner(s) and home environment; and force-free, science based training. In addition, PPG holds that professional force-free trainers


have an important role to play in dog bite prevention. The use of non-confrontational, science based, positive operant and respondent training techniques; programs of desensitization and counterconditioning; appropriate socialization; management strategies, and the education of pet dog guardians regarding such topics as canine communication and appropriate force-free pet care and training protocols, are paramount in helping tackle the subject of dog bite prevention and promoting safer communities. In Section Two of PPG’s Guiding Principles it is stated that: “We always hold the pet’s welfare as our top priority.” (PPG, 2016.). It is PPG’s position that breed specific laws adversely affect a pet’s welfare and are, without doubt, often detrimental to a pet's psychological and physical well-being. PPG holds that the subject of dog bite prevention and safety should be tackled through breed neutral laws, education, stricter enforcement of animal cruelty legislation and a greater accountability of all pet owners, trainers and legislators for the animal’s welfare.

Multifactorial Approach

There are several factors that contribute to the potential for dog bites and BSL is erroneous in that it pays no attention to a dog’s behavior (or the guardian’s), but focuses instead on the breed or even the dog’s appearance. It is PPG’s position that public policies should focus rather on the behavior of a particular dog, the behavior of his/her guardian, and the environment they live in. We propose that education is key to preventing the majority of dog bites. A greater knowledge of canine communication should be an essential component of said education, as should more widespread knowledge of the adverse effects of using forceful methods in training and interactions with our pets. Multifactorial approaches are needed if the number of potential dog bite incidents is to be reduced, as outlined above. The ultimate goal would be responsible ownership, including appropriate supervision of pets and the housing of pet dogs as family members in a safe and nurturing environment. The duty of care lies with the guardian, the canine professional and the policy makers. As such, PPG holds that humane and effective treatment of all dogs and breed neutral laws should replace BSL. n


Patronek, G., Sacks, J., Delise, K., Cleary, D., & Marder, A. (2013, December). Co-occurrence of potentially preventable factors in 256 dog bite–related fatalities in the United States (2000– 2009). Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association (243) 12 1726-1736. Retrieved October 6, 2016, from www Pet Professional Guild. (2016). Guiding Principles. Retrieved October 6, 2016, from /PPGs-Guiding-Principles


Pet Professional Guild. (2012). Pet Professional Guild Puppy Socialization Check List. Retrieved October 6, 2016, from %20Socialization%20Check%20List.pdf

To read PPG’s full Position Statement on Breed Specific Legislation, and What the Experts Say, see and BARKS from the Guild/November 2016



Dogs’ Gallery

PPG members’ pets showed up in droves - virtually that is - to give their backing to PPG’s Position Statement on Breed Specific Legislation. Thank you all for your support!


BARKS from the Guild/November 2016


Space Invaders Eileen Anderson investigates the concept of personal

space for both humans and dogs, and argues that we

can do a much better job of respecting our dogs’

space rather than assume instant access

Š Can Stock Photo/kostman

The way humans express affection can be difficult for dogs frontal proximity and hugging constitutes restraint and invasion for many dogs

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et's say you are standing at a party, or in your office, or on your front lawn. Someone you vaguely know walks up to you. He walks up very close, face-to-face, and close enough that you can see up his nose and smell his breath. He starts a conversation. What do you do? You will probably have a strong urge to step back.You may or may not do it, depending on the social situation or a host of other reasons. But when someone we don't know well enters our personal space bubble, it can be very uncomfortable. Everyone has his or her own bubble. In addition to individual preferences, it is also dependent on age, gender, and culture. And species. The German psychologist David Katz first coined the “bubble” term in 1937. For humans, one of the well-accepted definitions of personal space is from Leslie Hayduk (1987, p. 118) of the University of Western Ontario: “We can define personal space as the area individual humans actively maintain around themselves into which others cannot intrude without arousing discomfort.” Dogs have space bubbles, too. As a domesticated species, they respond somewhat differently from wild animals. But they are still keenly aware of how close humans, dogs, and other animals are to them and respond accordingly. I am pretty convinced that even when we are on our best behavior, dogs find us to be insensitive clods. They are hyper-alert to movement and body language and they have been bred for centuries to pay attention to us. Their own language with each other, and to us, is extremely subtle. But we don't always return the favor. If only we paid attention back! This article is about different types of personal space: for humans, dogs, and animals in general. I discuss the types of pressure we put on our dogs. The physical and the gestural. The accidental and deliberate. And the mismatch between the signals of our two species that can result in our being space invaders to dogs.

Animals and Space

I wasn't stepping out on a limb when I said that dogs have space bubbles. Personal space for individual and groups of animals has been well studied. Different spaces have been defined depending on distance and what happens when the space is entered. Some of the many terms used for an animal's immediate personal space include social force field, personal field, personal sphere, and personal area (McBride, 1971). But ethologists have defined several other types of space for animals. It can be useful to think of them as concentric ellipses. Here they are from the largest to smallest: Flight distance (or escape distance) is the distance at which the approach of another animal or human will cause the subject animal to flee. Hediger states: “The primary duty of the individual, to ensure its own existence, and thus the preservation of its kind, lies in being prepared to escape. By far the chief occupation of the free wild animal, therefore, is constant watchfulness; eternal alertness for the purpose of avoiding enemies.” (Hediger, 1955, p. 39). “An animal that hopes to keep alive among the dangers of freedom must be constantly on the alert... It is extremely hard to get near them, simply because all animals are so busy keeping an

COVER STORY eye open for the possible approach of enemies. As soon as one gets too close, as often happens, they take to flight.... Only when this specific flight distance, which differs for each species, is overstepped by an observed enemy does flight reaction follow; i.e. the animal in a typical manner runs away from it, far enough to put at least its specific escape distance between itself and the enemy once again.” (Hediger, 1955, p. 40). Dog and wolf experts Raymond and Lorna Coppinger state: “Flight is a hazard avoidance behavior, an essential component of a wild animal's survival. There are two measurable components to flight distance: 1) how close you can get to the animal before it attempts to flee, and 2) how far away it runs." (Coppinger & Coppinger, 2002, p. 64). Fight distance (or critical distance) is the distance at which the subject animal will aggress toward a predator. It is generally closer to the body than flight distance. To most species, humans are responded to as predators. McBride states: “When animals are cornered, they are unable to observe the flight distance from an approaching man… The animal cannot maintain its personal area free from intrusions by flight, so it must either submit or fight. Hediger named this distance the ‘fight distance.’”(McBride, 1971, p. 63). Social distance, on the other hand, is defined inward, toward a group of conspecifics or animals of similar species. It does not involve distance-seeking behavior. Among animals in groups, social distance was defined by Hediger as “the maximum distance an animal will move away from the group.” (McBride, 1971). Inside the social distance, each animal has its personal space. McBride states: “Gregarious animals normally move in a living space between the personal fields of neighbors and social distance.” (McBride, 1971). For animals and humans, one's personal space area is larger in front than on the sides. Flight distances are similarly elliptical (McBride & James, 1963). In humans, there is evidence that not only do we respond at a greater distance to the front of a person than to her back, but that we actually perceive that the person as closer if she is facing us than if she is not. (Jung et al., 2016). While people are often respectful of another person’s personal space, they do not always extend the same courtesy to dogs

© Can Stock Photo/luknaja

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Invasion of personal space doesn't stop at our skin. The ultimate invasion of personal space is bodily harm. In general, a threat is much more dangerous once it has touched, then entered our body, through ingestion or a wound. Dogs have a delicate sense of this that we appreciate. Dogs who are socialized to humans and mentally healthy develop bite inhibition with us for play and even when aggressing. Hediger pointed out that the reduction or elimination of the flight or escape reaction is essential for the successful domestication of a species. That gives us an operationalized definition of domestication. “The artificial removal of the flight distance between animals and man is the result of the process of taming, defined in animal psychology as the disappearance of flight tendency in the presence of man.” (Hediger, 1955, p. 41). Dogs, as a domesticated species, demonstrate this well. But dogs dwell in a variety of niches in our world. They can be house pets, livestock guardians or other working dogs, village dogs, or completely feral. Their flight distances vary greatly. Also, a dog can already be a tame and happy house pet, but we may work via behavior modification to alter his flight distance because he is overly fearful of various things. Raymond Coppinger takes the definition of "domestication" one step further: “My argument is that what domesticated — or tame — means is to be able to eat in the presence of human beings. That is the thing that wild wolves can’t do.” (Public Broadcasting Service, 2007).

Personal Space Dynamics for Humans

Space bubbles in humans have been well studied. Proxemics is a sub discipline of the discipline of non-verbal communication in humans. The term was coined by anthropologist Edward Hall, and refers to the way humans arrange themselves in space in relation to others (when they have a choice). Other fields that involve personal space are cognitive spatial mapping and psychological distance. Edward Hall (1968) wrote about interactions between humans of different cultures, in fact, observations of these are what prompted him to study proxemics. Hall identified four zones for human interaction that can be visualized as concentric spheres. From the smallest to the largest, they are the intimate zone, the personal zone, the social/consultive zone, and the public zone. They are largely self-explanatory.Very approximate measurements could be that the intimate zone goes about 2 feet out from the body; the personal zone extends from 2 - 4 feet; the social/consultive zone extends from 4 - 12 feet; and the public zone is greater than 12 feet from the individual. “Interpersonal distance is a constellation of sensory inputs that is coded in a particular way.” (Hall et al., 1968, p. 94). Human senses help tell us what is acceptable and safe within each sphere. Kinesthesia helps determine what gestures and touch are permitted. Think of terms such as "having enough elbow room." Our auditory sense affects the zone in how well one can hear and how one adjusts one’s voice level. Olfaction 20

BARKS from the Guild/November 2016

When animals are cornered, they are unable to observe their flight distance

© Can Stock Photo/buriy

Domesticated Species

can have strong effects on our desire to be near someone or get away. Can we smell the other person? Are we comfortable with that? Scented body products can modify our responses—in either direction. Our eyes determine where we are near enough to see what we need to see, and also whether our orientation is appropriate. Movement is sometimes used for escape, and sometimes to approach or optimize. Hall also identified whether features in space were fixed, semi-fixed, or dynamic. Walls and other structures are fixed.Your dog's fancy bed in a wooden frame is fixed. But the mats that I strew around my house for my dogs to get on are semi-fixed. I move them according to where I need the dogs to be, and the dogs move them, for instance, to pile several into a bed. Interpersonal space is usually dynamic. The space between a human and her dog is dynamic as well. That mutual space moves with us, and our comfort zones (ours and our dogs') change according to the activity and for many other reasons. Much of this is unconscious behavior on our parts. For example, when we sit down to have a discussion with someone, we may adjust the position of our chairs. Some of this may have to do with optimizing communication, for instance, being able to see the other's face better. But threaded through our movements is also a sense of personal space. I may behave differently if I am the host of a meeting, the guest, or if I am with peers in a neutral area. Hall noted large cultural differences not only about optimizing space but also in what situations it was even permissible to move one's chair: “For example, a German subject (an immigrant to the United States), who treated furniture as fixed, had bolted to the floor the chair on which visitors sat in his office. This caused great consternation among American visitors. One of my Chinese subjects informed me that in China a visitor would not dream of adjusting the furniture to conform to his unwritten definition of an

interaction distance unless specifically instructed to do so by his host. American students in my classes, who cover a wide spectrum of ethnic, class, and regional cultures within the United States, have been evenly divided between those who adjust the furniture to conform to an informal norm and those who do not.” (Hall et al., 1968, p. 91).

The Size of Personal Space

© Can Stock Photo/vitalytitov

Many factors have been identified that affect our arrangements in space vis-à-vis other individuals. Some factors are environmental, such as the space available and noise in the environment. There is also evidence that modifying our sensory input can have an effect on personal space. One study showed that persons wearing headphones enlarged their space bubbles (Lloyd, Coates, Knopp, Oram, & Rowbotham, 2009). Conversely, seeing that others were wearing dark glasses or mirror glasses altered the personal space of some research subjects (Yoshida & Hori, 1989). Fear and anxiety affect personal space. In a study of humans who were afraid of dogs, the auditory signal of a dog growling (as compared to the sound of a sheep bleating) extended the subjects’ personal space (Taffou & Viaud-Delmon, 2014). For humans, there are countless other variables having to do with personal characteristics. Hayduk (1978) lists gender, age, personality, race, socioeconomic status, various physical and psychological situations, liking, acquaintance, attitude similarity, a history of cooperation, a stigmatizing condition, violence, whether the subject is approaching or being approached, eye contact, social stimulus intensity, and whether the subject has had assertiveness training, the intimacy of subjects being discussed, and whether the other person smiles. If we have the ability to do so when our personal space is at risk of being infringed, we erect temporary barriers with whatever furniture, possessions, and other objects are available (Fisher & Byrne, 1975). There is a commonality among all these, and even though they are uniquely human, the common factor is one we share with other animals. Decisions we make regarding our personal space are connected to our safety. This dog is making it clear that she is enjoying the interaction by leaning into her owner and soliciting attention with her paw

COVER STORY Amygdala Involvement

The slightly uncomfortable feeling you get at a public gathering when someone gets too close; the downright creepy feeling you get when a man comes and sits next to you when the rest of the bus or subway car is empty; the fear and panic that floods over you if said guy pulls a knife: these are all on a continuum. The sympathetic nervous system is becoming engaged. Having our space bubbles invaded is not trivial. There is a reason that humans, dogs, and other animals are wired to be keenly aware of the spaces between them and other individuals. It is because it can be a matter of survival. Parts of the neurological responses involved in personal space awareness have been identified, and it is not surprising that the amygdala is involved. Most of the general public has heard by now that the amygdala is involved in fear responses. But neuroscientist Joseph LeDoux, who has been studying the amygdala for three decades, points out that the amygdala is not the fear center, as it is sometimes described. He considers the amygdala instead as a threat processing center. The brain circuits that control defense responses and those that give rise to feelings of fear interact, but this does not mean that they are the same (LeDoux, 2015, p. vii). LeDoux also points out that humans can be shown pictures of threats in such a way that fear is not triggered, but the amygdala is still activated and bodily responses occur as a result. It turns out that one of the threats that the amygdala is tuned to is the approach of someone or something into our personal space. The amygdala involvement has been determined with a human study, followed by animal research. A woman with complete bilateral damage to her amygdala was found to have no sense of personal space. She reported to examiners that she felt perfectly comfortable at nose-to-nose proximity to one of the researchers with full eye contact. She understood the concept of personal space cognitively and sought to act within societal norms, but had no "sense" of it (Kennedy, Gläscher, Tyszka, & Adolphs, 2009). Subsequent animal research showed that monkeys with bilateral amygdala lesions stayed closer to humans or other monkeys than monkeys with functional amygdalas. In addition, a preliminary fMRI test of eight healthy humans showed more amygdala response when the subjects knew that the experimenter was standing right next to the fMRI unit than when he was standing farther away (Kennedy, Gläscher, Tyszka, & Adolphs, 2009). Our sense of personal space is wired in at a very basic level.

Space Hierarchies

Recall that the study of proxemics in humans has to do with how humans arrange themselves when they have a choice. But there are certain members of human society to whom we allow less choice. The respecting or entering of space tends to be hierarchical, as Hall (1968) quoted from his Chinese acquaintance. We grant children less space than adults; babies the least of all. Even pregnant women experience space invasion, such as when perfect strangers touch their abdomens. Most women have noted, BARKS from the Guild/November 2016


© Can Stock Photo/AntonioGravante


Holding a dog immobile for a medical procedure comprises two space invasions: restraint plus the procedure itself, creating a situation that many dogs will find intrusive, hard to handle and perhaps even terrifying

and it has been documented, that men claim more space, even accounting for their larger size (La France & Mayo, 1979). People with disabilities are often afforded less space (Kilbury, Bordieri, & Wong, 1996). So this thing we sense so strongly - how close we will stand or sit next to another human - is largely unconscious but is also situational and hierarchical. But what we do not seem to have is an unconscious respect for a dog's space, unless the dog is giving out explicitly aggressive signals. If the dog is relaxing or otherwise minding its own business, we assume access.

From Humans to Dogs

In the United States, there is no law against simply entering another's personal space. However, many crimes involve space invasion, including simple assault, menacing, harassment, battery, and sex crimes. Human rights declarations generally include rights to bodily integrity, individual self-determination, and rights to privacy. Although considered property under historical law, pets and other animals are gradually gaining more protection and even explicit rights in some countries. But most cannot have complete bodily integrity, self-determination, and privacy because they do not have the cognitive ability to understand the consequences of their choices in human culture. We are accustomed to making decisions for them and we will always have to do so to some extent. For instance, veterinary surgery and other intrusive procedures are "violations" of a dog's bodily integrity. We do not generally have ways to communicate with our dogs to ask their consent for such complex actions. But I am arguing for giving them these rights when we can. The right to personal space without thoughtless invasion. The right to bodily integrity to the extent possible. Most of us can do a much better job of that.

Types of Pressure We Put on Dogs

We humans typically do not respect dogs' space bubbles to the degree they would probably prefer. Instead, we presume access, 22

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taking for granted that they want our petting and touching. Even when we are respectful, our species' different ways are hard on them. As primates, we express affection by frontal proximity and hugging. For many dogs, this constitutes restraint and invasion. Additionally, as their caregivers, we must sometimes do intrusive things to their bodies or take them to strangers who do so. Many people also assume access to other people's dogs. People with fearful and reactive dogs have to go to great measures to prevent intrusion from strangers who see a dog and are driven to pet and touch him. It is becoming more common to at least ask permission of the owner, but few think to ask the dog, or know how to do so. There is still a common expectation that dogs should automatically like, or at least get along with all people and all other dogs. Fearful, shy, or just plain introverted dogs really suffer from this. But even the most extroverted dog still has personal space. We need to learn to respect it. Here are some of the common human behaviors that can easily constitute space invasions. Most are the result of our differences in size and ways. • Direct eye contact. (In human proxemics, eye contact is said to narrow the distance between two people and can make an approaching person feel suddenly closer. This appears to be true of dogs and other animals as well.) • Standing still, facing a dog straight on. • Standing tall or leaning over a dog, especially for small dogs. • Reaching out with our hands. • Walking into a dog’s space. • Petting. I have a dog who grew up without human contact and she responded with flight to every one of the actions listed above when they came from anyone but me. I worked hard with behavior modification (for her and for me!) to make her more comfortable. Here are some human behaviors that are even more intrusive and difficult for dogs. • Crowding too many animals/people in a space that is not large enough. • Using molding in training: physically pressing a dog into position. • Using body pressure in training. • Confining a dog to a crate or any small space without conditioning. • Not allowing the dog to withdraw from human interaction. • Not allowing the dog to hide. • Keeping a dog who is trying to get away from us on leash. • Holding a dog immobile, whether for management, punishment, or medical procedures. Many of the above involve two space invasions: restraint, then another procedure. The following is also a twofold invasion. • Removing an object the dog is guarding. Resource guarding includes issues of personal space. It is a natural dog behavior that can quickly get a dog in trouble. The dog asserts possession of something, and the assertion typically becomes more aggressive as an intruder gets closer. Many humans are offended at a basic level when a dog takes possession

of an item and guards it, even if the dog does not aggress. But whether we are offended or only trying to protect the dog from a dangerous object or situation, there are times when we must take things away. Then we have procedures that actually cause pain. Some are the temporary, sometimes necessary discomfort of veterinary procedures. Note once more that invasion does not always stop at the skin. • Ear, eye, mouth, and anal exams and treatment. • Wound dressing. • Injections. • Surgical procedures. Finally, there is the deliberate use of pain or fear in training. • Training using startling. • Training using intimidation. • Training using pain. • Training using flooding: the deliberate restraint of a dog and exposure to something that scares or hurts them.

Potential Triple Whammy

As the owner of a formerly feral dog I have gotten a first-hand look at how a simple veterinary visit can be terrifying to an unsocialized dog. First, she is trapped in a small, enclosed space: the exam room. Second, one or often two strangers enter the room and interact with her. Even well-trained trained vet staff can have a very hard time not making unnecessary intrusions that raise her fear. "Making friends" is not going to happen, and any attempt to do so (look at the lists above - leaning in, eye contact, etc.) is scary. Then add to that whatever handling of her body is necessary, including intrusive or painful procedures. With my dog, the biggest challenge is the proximity of other humans; it seems to my observation that the handling, even painful types, is less bothersome. Although she is far out from the center of the bell curve, all of these threats that she feels so keenly are potential, albeit milder threats, to a more normally raised dog.

Exposure Protocols

Recall Hediger's definition of domestication as the artificial removal of an animal's flight response. This gives us a new way to think about what we do in desensitization protocols. As a domesticated species, dogs have a truncated flight response in general to humans, which is a result of selective breeding. Even some dogs born feral can quickly gain a positive response to humans (Zimen, 1987). But anyone who works with fearful dogs is still dealing with flight distance; we are seeking to humanely reduce their flight distance for specific triggers. We proceed by getting a trigger within sight and incrementally adjusting distances for exposures accordingly. But keep in mind the different things that can modify flight distance.


Angle of approach, speed, and auditory and olfactory information all come into play. My formerly feral dog can walk among pedestrians with a flight distance of virtually zero to her sides and a couple of feet directly in front of her. But she will get alarmed if a person 15 feet away stops, turns, and looks at her for two seconds. The pause, the squared up line of sight, and eye contact instantly enlarge her flight distance. Having a dog on leash interferes with the distinction that might otherwise be there between a flight distance and a fight distance. Recall that the fight distance exists when an animal is cornered or restrained, and dogs learn quickly just how much a leash restrains them. So we cannot imagine nice neat concentric ellipses for flight and fight under these circumstances. I have no doubt that we make invasions of dogs' spaces that we will never even sense. Dogs, with their keen senses of smell, have a world of sensation that we lack. Just as sights and sounds can expand their needed personal space, odors that carry a threat likely can as well. A friend who works with fearful dogs reports that the lingering odor of cigarette smoke brought into the house on a garment triggered escape behavior in one client dog. Husbandry procedures such as trimming nails, grooming, checking eyes, ears, nose and mouth can be thought of as exposure protocols as well. Most of these actions are not intrinsically enjoyable for a dog and many are actively unpleasant. Using desensitization and counterconditioning to create positive associations, or at least change the association from unpleasant to neutral, can help a dog cope with these necessary invasions.

Protecting Dogs

Although dogs seem to comprehend very well that humans are a separate species, they also appear to appreciate any efforts we make to "bridge the gap" and be more sensitive to their personal space. Greetings: One of the best instructions I have seen regarding requests to touch dogs in public comes from Madeline Clark

Teaching children to ask first if a dog wants to be petted and then inviting the dog to come to them ensures the dog is comfortable with the interaction, making it safer for everyone

© Can Stock Photo/pitrs

BARKS from the Guild/November 2016



Gabriel in her 2011 video, Dogs Like Kids They Feel Safe with. Gabriel states: “Parents and children need a whole new way to approach dogs. Asking the owner isn’t nearly enough. Children barely wait for an answer before they’re moving in on the dog, and owners often feel pressured to say yes. And nobody is asking the dog. She goes on to suggest that children follow three steps if they want to visit with a dog who is strange to them: • Step 1: Stop and stand still before asking. • Step 2: Ask the owner if you can ask the dog: “May I ask your dog if it would like to be petted?” • Step 3: Invite the dog over with welcoming body language. Do not come towards the dog (Gabriel, 2011). Although I am sure there are some dog owners who would be nonplussed by such a request, this is the right direction. Think of how many dogs' lives would be improved if children and adults asked the dog if he or she wanted to interact and respected the answer. Also, think of the dog Author Eileen Anderson’s bites it could prevent. dog, Zani is sensitive about Petting: My own video, her personal space and Does Your Dog REALLY Want to be prefers not to be “looked at” Petted (Anderson, 2012) shows a dog enjoying petting and another one enduring it but not happy about it. It discusses using a consent test - another way to ask the dog - to see if the dog is interested in being touched. In short, the human pets the dog for a few seconds and then stops. If the dog leans in with relaxed body language, and especially if he nudges the human’s hand for more petting, he is probably happy with the touch. The person can continue petting. But if the dog exhibits stress, turns or moves away, or even if she stays in position but is neutral, we can conclude that the petting was not pleasurable to her at that time. In that case the human should stop the contact (see also The Art and Science of Consent Testing, BARKS from the Guild, July 2015, p. 52 and The Value of Non-Verbal Communication, BARKS from the Guild, January 2016, p. 26). Husbandry: Many husbandry and medical tasks that must be performed are unpleasant. We and the dogs have no choice about it. Desensitization and counterconditioning and lots of preparation at home can help a dog build resilience for many procedures and for handling in general. And although in our training we always need to grant the dog the right to leave or to say, "wait a minute," I believe those are best used as litmus tests. Repeated and formalized use of escape should not be a substitute for doing all possible work to create a situation the dog doesn't want to leave to begin with. Taking Things Away We need to practice creating pleasant associations for the dog 24

BARKS from the Guild/November 2016

to our approach when he has food or another object. This will prepare us for the day when we must take something away from the dog for his own safety or the safety of another. Gear: We also need to condition any gear we use that is potentially restraining. It is humane for the dog and helpful for the owner if the dog is happy about collars, harnesses, leashes, muzzles, coats, boots, seatbelts, crates, autos, and other enclosures. Dog Body Language: Most people tend to misunderstand or disregard dogs' body language. There are thousands of videos on the internet of dogs who are desperately indicating that they would prefer that the humans back off, while the humans actually talk about how happy the dogs are. If we do not learn all we can about dog body language, our efforts to not intrude on our dogs' space and preferences will be in vain. We will not be able to tell if and when we are distressing them. Ongoing observation and learning about the dogs we share our lives with, and dogs in general, is thus crucial. Everyday Interactions: Perhaps the biggest differences we can make are not the dramatic ones. They may be in the ways we can change our everyday interactions with our dogs. I got interested in this subject because I have a dog, Zani, who is unusually pressure sensitive. She is fairly resilient and has great bounce-back, but very sensitive about her space. To her I am that "looming guy" who stands too close, reaches towards her too abruptly, and makes too much noise. Whatever I do, I will probably always be "that guy." But I am learning. I have a two-pronged approach. I am proactive about helping my presence be a positive thing for her. I play games with her where she enters my space. I also condition a "happy zone" close around my own body. But more important, I give her space in whatever ways I can. I do not walk straight at her. I use a curved path. In some situations, she prefers not to be looked at, so I don't. I don't thrust my hands in her face. I don't come plop down right beside her. I try to let her initiate necessary approaches at close quarters. I dedicate this article to Zani. n Eileen Anderson is a writer and dog trainer who writes about learning theory, her life with three dogs, and training with positive reinforcement on her award-winning Eileenanddogs,, blog, which won The Academy Applauds award in 2014 from The Academy of Dog Trainers. She started a website for canine cognitive dysfunction in 2013,, which has become a major resource for pet owners whose dogs have dementia, and published a book on the subject in 2015.She holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in music performance and a master’s degree in engineering science.

COVER STORY References

Anderson, E.B. (Producer). (2012). Does Your Dog REALLY Want To Be Petted? [Video]. Retrieved October 5, 2016, from Coppinger, R., & Coppinger, L. (2002). Dogs: A new understanding of canine origin, behavior and evolution. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press Fisher, J.D., & Byrne, D. (1975, July). Too close for comfort: Sex differences in response to invasions of personal space. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 32 (1) 15-21 Gabriel, M.C. (Producer). (2011). Dogs Like Kids They Feel Safe with [Video]. Retrieved October 5, 2016, from Hall, E. T., Birdwhistell, R. L., Bock, B., Bohannan, P., Diebold Jr, A.R., Durbin, M., Edmonson, M., Fischer, J.L., Hymes, D., Kimball, S., La Barre, W., Lynch, F., McClellan, J.E., Marshall, D.S., Milner, G.B., Sarles, H.B., Trager, G.L., & Vayda, A.P. (1968). Proxemics [and comments and replies]. Current Anthropology 83 108 Hayduk, L. A. (1978). Personal space: An evaluative and orienting overview. Psychological Bulletin 85 (1) 117-134 Hediger, H. (1955). Studies of the Psychology and Behavior of Animals in Zoos and Circuses. New York, NY: Criterion Hediger, H. (1950). Wild Animals in Captivity. London, UK: Butterworths Scientific Publications Jung, E., Takahashi, K., Watanabe, K., de la Rosa, S., Butz, M.V., Bülthoff, H. H., & Meilinger, T. (2016). The Influence of Human Body Orientation on Distance Judgments. Frontiers in Psychology 7. Retrieved October 5, 2016, from www.journal.frontiersin .org/article/10.3389/fpsyg.2016.00217/full Katz, D. (1937). Animals and Men. New York, NY: Longman, Green Kennedy, D. P., Gläscher, J., Tyszka, J. M., & Adolphs, R. (2009). Personal space regulation by the human amygdala. Nature Neuroscience 12 (10) 1226-1227 Kilbury, R., Bordieri, J., & Wong, H. (1996). Impact of physical disability and gender on personal space. Journal of Rehabilitation 62 (2) 59-61

Looking for Something? Check PPG’s Online Archive First!

La France, M., & Mayo, C. (1979). A review of nonverbal behaviors of women and men. Western Journal of Communication (includes Communication Reports) 43 (2) 96-107 LeDoux, J. (2015). Anxious: Using the brain to understand and treat fear and anxiety. New York, NY: Penguin Lloyd, D. M., Coates, A., Knopp, J., Oram, S., & Rowbotham, S. (2009). Don't stand so close to me: The effect of auditory input on interpersonal space. Perception 38 (4) 617-620 McBride, G. (1971). Theories of animal spacing: the role of flight, fight and social distance. Behavior and Environment 53-68. New York, NY: Springer US McBride, G., & James, J. W. (1963). Social forces determining spacing and head orientation in a flock of domestic hens. Nature 197 1272-1273 Public Broadcasting Service. (2007). Dogs That Changed the World: What Caused the Domestication of Wolves? Retrieved October 5, 2016, from -changed-the-world-what-caused-the-domestication-of -wolves/1276 Taffou, M., & Viaud-Delmon, I. (2014). Cynophobic fear adaptively extends peri-personal space. Frontiers in Psychiatry 5 3-9 Yoshida, F., & Hori, H. (1989). Personal space as a function of eye-contact and spatial arrangements of a group. Shinrigaku Kenkyu:The Japanese Journal of Psychology 60 (1) 53-56 Zimen, E. (1987). Ontogeny of approach and flight behavior towards humans in wolves, poodles and wolf-poodle hybrids. Man and Wolf: Advances, Issues, and Problems in Captive Wolf Research 4 275-292


Steinker, A. (2015, July). The Art and Science of Consent Testing. BARKS from the Guild (13) 52. Retrieved October 5, 2016, from _online_version_opt_1/52 Steinker, A. (2016, January). The Value of Non-Verbal Communication. BARKS from the Guild (16) 26. Retrieved October 5, 2016, from _guild_january_2016/26

The PPG Archive currently holds over 1,100 articles. All categories are represented, including canine, feline, equine, avian, behavior, training, business, consulting, PPG news, book reviews, product reviews, member profiles, opinion pieces and scientific studies. /Guild-Archives

BARKS from the Guild/November 2016




Building Confidence

Angelica Steinker highlights the benefits of dog sports for pet dogs, owners and trainers alike

og sports range from the simple to the elaborate, but all can serve to build confidence and improve a pet dog’s quality of life. No matter which sport you experiment with personally, or decide to provide for your clients, there are clear benefits; honing your training skills, and facing unusual challenges which only serve to make you better are just two of the endless learning opportunities that mastering a dog sport can provide. For dogs, the benefits are also extensive. These include improved mental and physical stimulation, confidence building and a fun hobby.

Fun Scent Games

This sport requires very little to get started. All you need are some boxes or other similar objects such as Tupperware containers, and some food treats the dog really loves and wants.You start by hiding the food in plain sight and gradually build up to more difficult finds. The most important thing to remember is that the dog has to find the food, so humans are not allowed to help. There are no cues given, no helpful glancing or leaning, and absolutely no pointing. Dognostics Career College offers a certification program that includes this basic level of finding food, and moves on to finding what smells like me, and, at the final level, humane snake avoidance training. None of these games require much equipment and can be played in a variety of settings.

Musical Freestyle involves dog and trainer dance routines set to music


Another popular dog sport is agility, which can be an excellent way for shy dogs to build their confidence. Agility involves the dog navigating a course while the human runs alongside. It is mentally and physically challenging to dogs and can be a great outlet for dogs that have higher energy levels. If your client has a dog that is a little too active for their lifestyle, a weekly agility class may really help take off the edge.

This border collie is searching boxes using his sense of smell to find the one that contains food

Dog Dock Diving

Dog dock diving is a sport that, while requiring some fairly extensive equipment, does not require the intensive training of some other sports such as agility. Once a dog understands to run on the dock and then jump into the pool, additional training is not required. The human member of the team, however, does need to practice their throwing skills and fine tune the timing of their throws to gain maximum distance in their dog’s jump. The training process in dog dock diving is to back chain the behaviors. Start with the dog learning to swim, being sure to introduce all parts of the pool but, most importantly, how to get out. Next, dogs can learn to take small leaps from the ramp into the pool, and finally they can build up to jumping into the pool 26

BARKS from the Guild/November 2016

Agility is a timed sport, so dogs and handlers work hard to go as fast as they can


from the dock which is 2 feet above the water surface. The American Kennel Club (AKC) recently added dock jumping to its list of sports for which titles are available via an organization called North American Diving Dogs. Titles are like a dog “getting a degree” and many owners collect titles as a hobby. While dog dock diving does require elaborate equipment, you can also travel to AKC cluster conformation dog shows to give the sport a try. If you are lucky, you may even have a facility near you so you can practice on a regular basis.

Disc Dog

Disc dog is another low cost, minimal barriers-to-entry dog sport. All you need is a disc and a healthy dog that wants to play with it. An easy way to get a dog started in this sport is to simply start feeding the dog from the underside of a disc. This way the dog associates something good with the disc. Another method is to start out with a soft disc, as some dogs find the hard plastic of a competition standard disc uninviting. Most dogs learn to love the harder plastic discs because the throws with them become a lot easier for dogs to predict and thus catch. There are two basic categories for disc dog competitions: distance, where the dog gains points for simply catching throws; and freestyle, where the dog and trainer perform a routine to music centering upon the dog catching discs.

Dog dock jumping is an exciting and fun sport for dogs that like water

Trick Training and Musical Freestyle

Another dog sport that requires little or no equipment is trick training. Louise Stapleton-Frappell offers an excellent trick training program via DogNostics Career College called TrickMeister. The program also offers titles and can, of course, lead to other fun dog sports such as Musical Freestyle. Musical Freestyle consists of dog and trainer dance routines set to music. Most competitions require that the dog perform leg weaving, i.e. the dog weaves through the trainer’s legs while the trainer is moving. Regardless of whether you meet with clients in their homes or they come to you at a training facility, consider adding dog sports to your services. Not only is it a good business move by providing you with a cross-sell, but, more importantly, you can bring a whole world of fun to your human and canine clients’ lives. Nothing is more rewarding than seeing a formerly shy dog gain confidence, or a client with a reactive dog finding a new outlet for their dog’s energy. n


North American Diving Dogs: TrickMeister:

Angelica Steinker PCBC-A owns and operates Courteous Canine, Inc. DogSmith of Tampa, www.courteouscanine .com/Florida, a full service pet business and dog school specializing in aggression and dog sports. She is the national director of training for DogSmith Services,, and cofounder of DogNostics Career College, www

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BARKS from the Guild/November 2016



The Ultimate in Teamwork

In the second of a two-part feature, Morag Heirs provides a host of training tips for canicrossing with deaf dogs

Jill Blow’s deaf border collie Kym loves to run canicross with Blow and another of her dogs


have been canicrossing with my own dogs since 2007 and, right from the beginning, at least one of my running dogs has been deaf or partially-sighted. Although there are fewer technical skills required than in some other dog sports, being a trainer has definitely helped me to narrow down what it is useful to teach for both runner and dog. (Safety note: Running in a harness at human speed is quite different to the kinds of running that dogs do off leash, so please consider a thorough vet check before starting and follow a good couch to 5km type training plan even if you already run frequently.)

Training and Signals

I have learned to adapt some of the techniques for my own deaf dogs, and have had the pleasure of helping several other deaf dog owners get started with canicross. If the deaf dog is running in a pair with a hearing dog then he will usually take his cues accordingly, but it is always worth teaching the deaf dog too. Some of the following can be tricky to describe but we are working on short video guides (at the time of going to press - Ed.).


Running with other dogs, either as a pair or in a small group, is often used to encourage novice dogs to get up ahead and pull into their harnesses - this strategy works just as well with a deaf dog, especially if the helper can sign to the dog for encouragement (hearing dog owners can shout praise of course). While a hearing dog is more likely to be encouraged to line out (get up ahead and lean into the harness) before being set off, with a deaf dog we find it easier to hold him near the bottom of the line and give a physical cue to release him. Our method involves having someone up ahead to encourage 28

BARKS from the Guild/November 2016

Liz Elkin currently runs up to 8 miles with deaf Australian cattle dog, Kora

the dog by waving and then, when the dog pulls into the harness, give the signal (single pat to hindquarters) and release him to run to the helper. The helper then runs away from the dog so they are pulling on the line to get to him as you run too. Obviously this requires your dog to be comfortable with this kind of physical cue, so do check this beforehand.


Sometimes on trail runs you find there might be a bit of a queue at a road crossing or a stile. It would be bad form to tumble into the back of the waiting runners or canicrossers. Alternatively, you might get to a tricky section on the trail and need to consider your line of descent. Either way, we do not have the option of calling to our dogs to ask them to steady up, and braking with your legs is a quick way to muscle strains. With deaf dogs, there is a good chance that we have already trained them to respond to a gentle jiggle or tug on the leash when out on normal walks. We would recommend you start with this (gentle tug on leash = delicious food) before adding it into your canicrossing repertoire. Once this is in place, then simply apply the same principle when running in harness. When you need the deaf dog to slow significantly, grab the bungee line or use the connecting webbing at the front of your waistbelt and give two firm tugs. As the dog slows and turns towards you, reward generously.You might want to use this to get your dog to halt in one place too, while you scramble over a tree perhaps. Use the double tug to get your dog to stop, then signal for a sit/wait while you deal with the obstacle.

Not Pulling down Hills

Depending on where you run, you might not need this tip. But

since most canicrossers will be running off road and along interesting paths you probably want to plan ahead for the steep, tricky or just plain muddy descent when the lovely pulling power of your dog becomes a major hazard. It is not uncommon in a shared race to be told that I am cheating on the uphill stretches by the human only runners, yet they can bounce and slide down the muddy slopes with abandon. In contrast I will be descending carefully with my dogs lest we all slide to the bottom. Just holding the dogs back is no guarantee of a safe descent. With our deaf dogs, we cannot use voice cues to steady the pace and ask them to wait on a tricky section. Instead, we rely on previously taught skills again. Most often with my dogs and clients we will have used the collar for "nice" walking versus top connection on a harness for "free time." The canicross harnesses do look and feel quite different to the dogs, and thus clearly mean run up ahead. When I need careful walking for a controlled descent, I will move the bungee line from the harness onto the collar and gather in the excess line. Alternatively, with my larger deaf dog, I simply take a gentle hold of her collar, which also means walk beside me.


Imagine you are running easily along a forest trail and your dog is following the path as it twists and turns. Suddenly up ahead there is a tree in the middle of the path where it forks. This is when you need your dog to pick the same side as you! Writing from hilarious personal experience when I raced with Finn (hearing) and Farah (deaf), I can promise you that the deaf dog does not always follow the hearing one...and, not surprisingly we ended up in rather a tangle. I have developed a tactic which uses a bouncing motion of the hand against the bungee line to help the deaf dog understand where to go next. This is most easily taught on well-defined trails with obvious junctions, avoid trying to practice on open grassy fields when things can become confusing. If you wanted to go left, you would bounce your right hand against the right hand side of the bungee - so the dog is very slightly nudged to the left. It helps to have someone else up ahead to encourage and praise/reward the dog too.

Case Studies

Liz Elkin was an experienced runner who had competed in ultramarathons but wanted some canine company on the trails. Kora, a deaf Australian cattle dog, accompanies her on most of her runs and they have started racing together too. Says Elkin: “To cut a long story short, we met Kora when she was just 2 weeks old as the breeder thought she was deaf. If she was, then the person who was going to have her didn't want a deaf dog. She had the brain stem auditory evoked response (BAER) hearing test at 5 weeks old, which showed she is bilaterally deaf. I assumed Kora would always be on a lead but that is not the case. She has better recall than most hearing dogs (when she looks at me of course). I got Kora a running harness when she was a year old and started to go out for short, rural runs. At first she stuck behind me as she wanted to be able to see me and, as a herder, that made sense. Over the past year she has


come on in leaps and bounds and now understands what I am asking of her. Over the past few months we have slowly increased our mileage and are back up to runs of 8 miles. I am taking it very slowly and surely with Kora as I hope to have many running years ahead of us. I have entered a few races with Kora and have been impressed with her performance. In fact, my son raced with her and came first in his category!” Jill Blow adopted Kym, a deaf border collie, via an animal rescue centre. Originally a farm collie, Kym had had a pretty unsettled start being moved from place to place. Kym has been a big challenge for Blow but she has worked really hard implementing strategies from a behavior consultant and using some of the advice from our Deaf Dog Network. Blow started canicross for fun and to help burn off some of Kym’s energy and now they are hooked. Says Blow: “The first few weeks I thought [adopting a deaf dog] is easy, then his true personality began to emerge. He was resource guarding me and food, howling for no apparent reason, spiking at all sorts of things, smoke being the worse. I felt out of my depth, did a lot of reading of Deaf Dog Network files and worked with a behavior consultant. She suggested a few things and almost as soon as I put a few things in place there was a huge improvement. Since then there has been no looking back, Kym leads a completely 'normal' life, is always off lead, and I never worry about him getting lost or running away (I followed Morag Heirs’ check-in training [see Waving Loudly, BARKS from the Guild, January 2015, page 35-37-Ed.]). We are fairly new to canicross having only competed in one season but he runs with another of my collies and took to it straight away. He loves to run and gets so excited when he sees the harness and gear coming out. We are a team and I adore him.” n Morag Heirs PhD MSc MA(SocSci)(Hons) PGCAP human and canine remedial massage therapist, is a companion animal behavior counselor who runs Well Connected Canine,, in York, UK. She works with deaf and blind dogs professionally, provides training and support for the Deaf Dog Network and is the behaviorist for Sheffield Animal Centre (RSPCA) and York & District RSPCA branches in the UK.


ARION Cup and Canicross: /arion-cup Canicross Trailrunners: and www CaniSports Scotland: Canicross USA: Canix: Deaf Dog Network: Fédération des Sports et Loisirs Canins: Heirs, M. (2015, Jan.). Waving Loudly. BARKS from the Guild (10) 35-37. Retrieved September 27, 2016, from /petprofessionalguild/docs/bftg_jan_2015flattened_opt_opt/35 International Federation of Sleddog Sports: www BARKS from the Guild/November 2016




Mapping the Future

Susan Nilson speaks to Embark founder, Ryan Boyko about the company’s new canine DNA test, and the impact it could have on the lives of dogs, their owners, and canine behavior professionals

n May 2016, Embark launched its compreRyan Boyko, hensive pet genetic test in partnership with with Harley, has traveled the Cornell University College of Veterithe world collecting nary Medicine. According to Embark’s webcanine DNA site, the test will track “over 200,000 genetic samples markers, offering ancestry analysis as well as an extensive overview of both genetic disease risk and heritable traits, allowing users to understand their dog’s health, plan for his future and provide the best personalized care possible.” Embark further states that “four out of 10 dogs will suffer from inherited diseases,” and that the test, more than just a breed test, will examine a dog’s DNA “to screen for over 160 genetic diseases, including multi-drug sensitivity, degenerative myelopathy, dilated cardiomyopathy, Progressive Retinal Atrophy blindness, and exercise-induced collapse.” Many conditions — such as glaucoma, heart disease, and spinal cord Harley’s Genetic disease — can occur later in life, but shows “by knowing what to look for, you can Summary some interesting get treatment started as early as possi- heritage, and is one reason why ble,” Embark says. it is so difficult Ryan Boyko founded Embark after a to determine in mixed decade spent using Big Data* to tackle breeds dogs from appearance issues in public health, ecology, and inalone dustry. He traveled all over the world collecting canine samples. Now, via the test, his aim is to improve the lives of dogs worldwide. With “over 77 million pet dogs in the US and an average cost of dog ownership of $19,692,” Embark says the “time is right” for this test.

BARKS: What has the test revealed to you about the genetic history of the dog in terms of its ancestry, specifically in terms of geography, and also timing (as in how long have dogs cooperated with humans)?

Ryan Boyko: Our research [with brother, Adam] has contributed to the growing consensus that dogs are from Asia and has pointed to a Central Asian origin about 15,000 years ago. Though our DNA test only launched [six] 30

BARKS from the Guild/November 2016

months ago, we’ve started getting samples from village dogs across the world - just [recently] we gave results to dogs from the Americas, Africa, and Asia. We’re hopeful that these samples, over time as we collect more of them, will continue to help unravel the origins and early history of the dog - stay tuned! BARKS: What is the relevance of a genetic test to the average dog owner?

RB: Americans spend on average over $400 per dog in veterinary expenses each year, and this amount increases as a dog gets older. We know that the average lifetime cost of vet bills is $9,420. The Embark DNA test results help you prepare in advance for numerous possible genetic health conditions, allowing you to take preventative steps to avoid costly treatments later on, and reducing the likelihood you’ll face expensive bills for avoidable clinical or genetic tests later on if symptoms of these conditions develop in your dog. Our genetic tests empower dog owners to connect with their pets on a deeper level and allow them to provide the best care possible. BARKS: The cost of the test is $199.That might be considered a little expensive for the average dog owner.What would be the advantages for them in making the investment?

RB: Embark was created by the world leaders in dog genetics. The Embark test is the only comprehensive test on the market, providing you results for over 160 genetic health conditions, the most scientifically accurate breed identification of any test (based on more than 100 times as much genetic information as other tests), and so much more. That price also covers peace of mind: knowing if your dog is at risk for those 160+ genetic diseases or not. Having an accurate knowledge of your dog’s breed also helps you and your veterinarian know

other diseases that may be more likely to appear during your dog’s life. We’re developing several one-of-a-kind analyses as well. For example, our genetic age (based on several factors including size genes and inbreeding) is a much more accurate way of determining where in your dog’s life course they are. This can help guide decisions about what food to feed your dog and what screenings to get. Simply put, we go above and beyond for each dog we service. We want to know it all and, as a result, provide our customers with the knowledge to provide the best care for their dog, which we believe will ultimately save money as well as doggy lives.


the needs of their furry patients. We’re confident that vets care most about their patients’ health and lives, and that we can work with veterinarians to make this a win-win-win-win proposition for us, them, their clients, and their clients’ dogs.

BARKS: What impact can the test have on assessing the dog’s health and/or future health issues? There are reports of it being used to test for cancer or hip dysplasia amongst others. Can you elaborate on what conditions or diseases the test can screen for, and does it mean that owners can be “pre-warned” and therefore take preventative measures (with the help of their vet)?

RB: We strive to make your dog’s healthspan equal his/her lifespan - to ensure your dog remains able to go for long walks, play BARKS: How receptive have veterinarians been to the results of the fetch, and roll in their favorite puddle for as long as possible! You test so far? can extend your dog's healthspan by testing for genetic diseases that occur later in life including glaucoma, degenerative myelopaRB: Our vet report, included with [the] Embark DNA kit, was thy, and dilated designed by vets. It allows you to share key information with cardiomyopathy, your vet to three of the give your most common dog the best adult onset discare possieases in dogs. ble. The reBy knowing sponse has what to look been very for, you and positive your vet can our goal is begin treatment to give vets as early as posmore inforsible. mation to Many of the help them Jax’s Genetic Summary most common better care shows an incredible range in heritage, things we idenfor their pawith the wider tify as health tients. Many family tree providing risks are easily vet practices the bigger picture. preventable or have aptreatable. We proached us work to give with interest you and your in offering it vet enough into their paJax graphics: formation to be tients. Denise Adleman, owner on the lookout or address concerns as early as BARKS: Are possible. For example, kidney vets likely to and bladder stones can often be wary of be prevented with proactive the fact that ** diet changes. Ensuring that potential preyour dog eats and drinks vention rather **"Some dogs descend from other dogs that were themselves mixed breed.These other dogs can give small than cure may contributions to the ancestry of your dog, so small that they are no longer recognizable as any one particular breed. enough can reduce their risk of We call this portion ‘Supermutt.’” - Ryan Boyko developing stones. Frequent impact their screening can also reduce the risk of emergency care. revenues? What effect might the test have on the veterinary care of A few common conditions our screening can help catch early any individual animal in that sense? Will it perhaps just go in a differinclude: multiple drug sensitivity (MDR1), kidney/bladder stones, ent direction, rather than vets “losing out?” progressive retinal atrophy, glaucoma, degenerative myopathy or Lou Gehrig’s disease, and gastrointestinal intolerance. We are RB: We don’t see it that way, and we don’t think vets do either. partnering with some of the best academics in the world to push Our goal at Embark is to help your dog live a long, healthy life. forward on tests for hip dysplasia and cancer, among others. We provide vets with a comprehensive report to better serve BARKS from the Guild/November 2016



BARKS: You have stated elsewhere that the test can indicate what a dog’s adult size will be. Can you elaborate on why knowing this would be advantageous?

The DNA test also gives details of genetic diseases and drug sensitivities

RB: In dogs, there are 17 critical genes that determine almost all of the variation in size. By directly examining these genes, we can give you the best possible prediction of how big your puppy will grow up to be, or whether your dog is one of the 50 per cent of dogs in America that is overweight. Older dogs are more prone to osteoarthritis and other metabolic complications, some of which can be improved by keeping your dog at their optimal weight. Embark takes the guessing out of what your dog should weigh, helping you to keep them running at the front of the pack.

BARKS: Many PPG members are concerned primarily about behavior – how might this test be of interest/relevance for them or their clients?

RB: Behavioral genetics has historically been a difficult to study area in dogs. By bringing a test like ours, built on research-grade technology, into tens of thousands of American homes, we will be able to untangle the complex genetic and environmental factors that impact dog behavior and trainability. It’s one of our areas of focus. Right now, we test for the mutation associated with canine compulsive disorder. We will soon be launching interactive content to help owners explore their dog’s behavior - and point them to helpful resources given their individual dog and situation.

BARKS: Is it known at this stage how influential genetics are on behavior? What about physiology? For example, say a dog might demonstrate fearful behavior because his floppy ears make it harder to hear, or his short legs make it harder to negotiate certain obstacles.

RB: Indeed, Adam [Boyko]’s lab has already led the way in canine behavioral genetic research. As you point out, though, nearly all discoveries in this area have been associated with obvious physical traits that explain the behavioral differences explained by the genes. There are probably many associations like that, but the more dogs we test and deeper we dig, the less obvious those physical explanations will be. Even dogs that look the same do not behave the same, and it is clear that both genetics and envi32

BARKS from the Guild/November 2016

ronment play an important role.

BARKS: If the test results show that a dog is predisposed to fearful behavior, or aggression, for example, what impact do you see this having on professionals who engage in behavior modification protocols for these specific (and other) behavior problems?

RB: Precisely! Just as knowing a dog is genetically predisposed to feeling hungry all the time alters the way a dog should be fed, knowing other behavioral predispositions should also inform an owner or behavioral professional about what methods and environments would be most effective for behavioral modification for a particular dog.

BARKS: If a dog is genetically bound to behave in a certain way, then are professionals and owners expecting too much for, say, a dog who is hardwired to be fearful to overcome his fear? Perhaps, in fact, it is impossible for that dog? Much, of course, can be done with desensitization and counterconditioning but at the end of the day, if a behavior is genetic then surely success may be limited.What are your thoughts on this?

RB: At the highest level, nothing is purely genetic or environmental. A dog’s genes impact how they interact with their environment, which in turn creates feedback loops and can solidify - or overcome - hardwired tendencies. Certainly, some dogs will never be wonderful retrievers or shepherds, and Chihuahuas (fearless as they can be) will never make the best police/guard dogs. There are genetic limitations to behavior. However, I don’t think these limitations mean particular dogs will always be fearful no matter what their environment (especially as a puppy).

BARKS: What impact do you think this type of DNA testing could have, as it becomes more advanced, in managing and/or treating behavior problems?

RB: Identifying dogs that need certain environments or interactions as puppies will be one of the greatest areas of impact genetic testing can have. Beyond that, even identifying the correct food, exercise, and care routines can help prevent or keep in check many of the behavioral problems that ultimately stem from dogs with pent up energy and poor nutrition. Of course in some cases, it may also be possible to help breeders breed away from

certain genetic variants that are associated with problem behaviors as well.

BARKS: Can you explain briefly how the test works – how do owners get the DNA sample from their dog, what do they do then, how long does the testing process take and when might they receive the results? If the results indicate a propensity for say, kidney disease, what do you recommend they do then? RB: We mail all of our customers a cheek swab and instructions. By swabbing your dog’s cheek, you can easily take a sample in under a minute at home, no blood required. Then mail the sample in a provided pre-paid return envelope and your results will be available in just a few weeks.Your swab is analyzed at our state-of-the-art, Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments or CLIA-certified, dog-approved lab facility. At the lab, we extract your pup's DNA and run it on our custom-built genetics "chip,"which is a proprietary DNA microarray technology with over 200,000 markers. This produces an incredibly detailed view of dog's genome which we run through our advanced bioinformatics engine that was created and is run by the top dog DNA scientists in the world.Your dog’s results go through several steps of verification and quality control. Whenever we see a questionable result, it is hand-checked by our scientific experts, so you know you can trust our findings. Our turnaround time from when we get your test kit returned to us is four to six weeks, so owners will receive their results typically about six to eight weeks in total from time of order.Your dog’s results will be delivered in easily understandable, interactive ways that guide you to understanding your dog and caring for her better. We also facilitate conversations with your veterinarian with a veterinary report. We encourage our customers to discuss your dog's results with their vet. Customers should not take any action based on our tests until they have discussed the results with their vet.

BARKS: I am sure many pet owners will have questions similar to this, but here is mine: Our cat, Jeffrey died at the age of eight of renal failure.We picked him up in a very poor state as a kitten off the street. At the time, the vet said one of his kidneys felt “small.” If he had been DNA tested as a kitten would eventual kidney failure have shown up as a possibility for him and therefore something we could have taken preventative measures towards, or is it something that may have developed as a result of his early impoverished environment? Or both?


the first kind of cause and help owners make the right choices for their dog to prevent the third.

BARKS: Last of all, how does the test determine how quickly or slowly an animal is aging? Do you think that eventually this kind of testing could have an effect on the general longevity of dogs, and perhaps other pets too, if the test is expanded to include other species? RB: Our hope is to help owners and vets make plans for healthier and more graceful aging with Embark’s comprehensive genetic testing. As it is the first of its kind, we are only in the early stages of working with vets to help bring its potential into full practice, but we’re confident that this, coupled with other advances from Embark, can dramatically increase the healthspan and lifespan of dogs. We do think there is a lot to learn about the genetics of canine longevity, and think our customers will be big part of accelerating future discoveries in this area. n * “Big Data is a collection of data from traditional and digital sources inside and outside your company that represents a source for ongoing discovery and analysis.” - Lisa Arthur,What Is Big Data? Forbes, August 2013 ( For more information about the Embark Dog DNA Test, see Susan Nilson BA (Hons) DipCABT (UK) PCBC-A is a Reuters-trained journalist who studied feline behavior under the tutelage of Prof. Peter Neville at the Centre of Applied Pet Ethology (COAPE) in the UK and completed her diploma in companion animal behavior and training with COAPE in 2005. Based in Los Angeles, California for the last six years, she saw behavior cases on an ad hoc basis, assisted START Rescue,, with temperament assessments and was a volunteer behavior consultant at the Linda Blair Worldheart Foundation,, one of the largest pit bull rescues in the US. She recently moved to Finland where she is learning the language prior to jumping back into the world of behavior.

RB: Sorry for your loss. Without knowing your cat I can unfortunately only give you a very unsatisfying answer, which is that it could have been any of them. There are certain genetic diseases of the kidney that are currently not preventable and will strike a dog no matter how they are raised. There are certain environmental factors that will cause damage to even the genetically healthiest dog. And there are in between cases where a genetic predisposition coupled with environmental causes could create damage that causes problems later in life. Our goal is to help breed out (and discover preventatives for) BARKS from the Guild/November 2016



A Journey of the Heart

Diane Garrod shares her life-changing experience volunteering at Best Friends Animal Society, in Kanab, Utah

The daily canine meet and greet - this dog was fearful at first but learned to enjoy social interactions and is now doing NoseWork and scent detection


Racko enjoys the ball pool in the Dogtown training building

est Friends Animal Society (BFAS) is a state-of-the-art, nokill animal sanctuary located on thousands of acres in Angel Canyon, Kanab, Utah just a few miles from the Arizona border and surrounded by immense, scenic beauty. This breathtaking landscape serves as the backdrop to the opportunity volunteers have to experience animals at various stages of their rehabilitation. Large spaces are named and allocated to the various species including Dogtown, Cat World, Horse Haven, Marshalls Piggy Paradise, Parrot Garden, Bunny House, and Wild Friends. Respectful from life to death, Best Friends also has a wonderful resting place for animals, Angels Rest and Memorial, filled with wind chimes and special messages from guardians to their pets, and is a must-see during your visit. Having visited BFAS as a volunteer three times now, and my roommates also having been there several times, there are a number of tips I can offer to help you get the most out of the experience. Knowing how to plan and what you might run into is invaluable. To begin with, make reservations ahead of time as volunteer spots can fill very quickly. We made our reservations a good year in advance and placed a deposit on a cottage located in the grounds. Select, ahead of time, a combination of what you would like to see and do and where your interest lies. Do not assume that volunteer spots will be open when you arrive. BFAS is very good at volunteer management and moving people through to the places they would like to be, while maintaining a schedule and a respect for the animals who live there. My roommate, Lyn Kiernan from Whidbey Island, Washington pointed out that she went to BFAS alone the first time and rented her own car: "I had my own transportation, which you need, as the property is very 34

BARKS from the Guild/November 2016

Author Diane Garrod worked in the Parrot Garden cleaning floors, cages, and taking parrots outside to the garden

spread out. There are great places to hike or half-day trips out of town, if you need a diversion from volunteering.� What was different on this trip is that I shared a cottage with three other ladies, and we added a dog into the mix as well. It was fun and less costly, but on the downside personal space was somewhat limited. If you are staying a week or so, make note that a cottage is big enough and comfortable for two, but it might be a bit of a squeeze for any more, unless you have a family situation. Our view from the cottage included horses playing, training and grazing. A view of the red rocks is inevitable as the property is surrounded by the beauty of majestic, towering rock formations. The cottages have two beds in one bedroom as well as foldout beds, which can be taken up and down in the living area. There is a full kitchen, one bathroom and a deck. My roommates and I brought our own food and supplies and ate lunch at the vegetarian restaurant on site. There were also many wonderful restaurants in downtown Kanab to choose from and one day we traveled to the Arizona border (4 miles away) to eat dinner. Cabins and RV parking are also available on grounds and there are a selection of hotels and motels in nearby Kanab. The scenic beauty of the area is also something you will want to be able to take in while you are there and it is highly recommended you take the time in your travels to do so. There are trails right across from the visitor's center and throughout the property as well as off property, from waterfalls, cliffs and hidden caves to sand dunes adding to the experience. When you arrive at BFAS, you first check in at the Visitor Center and receive your volunteer schedule.You will view a

video and receive a talk about the volunteer experience and more. Then you go to your assignments. At the time of the assignment, you will check in at each town's headquarters. It is as simple as that and is a very systematic and effective process to move a lot of volunteers through the sanctuary on schedule, on time.

Which Town?

There are many things at BFAS to do as a volunteer. Some are fun, others involve just getting down and dirty. While there I helped work with dogs doing NoseWork, Treibball, and agility, I cleaned runs, handed out enrichment puzzles, helped feed dogs, worked with harder, more challenging dogs, took video for a caretaker's presentation of a counterconditioning exercise dog to dog, attended a Treibball demonstration, and worked all week with the star of our visit, dog Racko. I also spent time volunteering at the Parrot Garden and touring Marshall's Piggy Paradise, Horse Haven (including goats and sheep) and the Wild Friends tour. Tours and volunteering are two separate activities. My roommates worked with special needs dogs, puppies, cats, horses and more. There is a lot to learn from just walking in the grounds. Walking dogs is usually a part of a volunteer's job and you might find yourself reading to, talking to, or cuddling with various dogs. It gives you perspective of the hard work that is involved in an organization as big as this.

Life Changing

Afterwards, I asked my roommates what had made the biggest impressions on them during our visit. "Volunteering at Dogtown was my favorite," said Kiernan. "For me staying in one area all week with eight dogs gave me a clearer insight into the daily operation. Dogtown, has an organized schedule that includes fun activities, walks, time for rest, feedings, grooming, vet appointments and socialization. I got to be a part of all of that." Dogtown is also my favorite due to my passion for teaching, my study and experience with stress in dogs and dog behavior problems. What I saw were clickers, music, and a training center, and what I what I would have liked to see more of was attention to better fitting harnesses for the dogs, and more time to de-stress and sleep. Second on my list is always Parrot Garden and everything else is slotted in as best I can. "Best Friends caregivers, trainers and the staff all made a huge impression on me,” added Kiernan. “Getting to know the staff and their relationships with the dogs/animals they care for showed that they put their heart and soul into all they do. The work is physically and emotionally challenging at times. I have great respect and gratitude for this organization and those who help the animals in often difficult situations."


It is not all happiness and good times though. Along with the happy stories come the sad tales of animals that are injured, found alongside roads, confiscated from puppy mills, hurt in some way (ranging from health issues to abuse), and the ones who do not make it. BFAS has a fully staffed veterinary clinic that cares for all the animals. Each animal is received as an individual with unique requirements. He is provided a caretaker, a trainer, a diet appropriate to his needs, and exercise daily combined with a variety of enrichment such as toys, puzzles and social interactions with people and other dogs, as appropriate. To get through the property quickly, staff use golf carts and I was privileged to ride along on many occasions to feed the dogs and more. At the time I was there, there were 400 dogs on site and you can imagine the enormous undertaking and focus these individuals require. BFAS keeps another 100 spots open in Dogtown for any emergency that might arise, such as a puppy mill rescue, or special situations worldwide and dogs with nowhere else to go. "The magnitude of Best Friends and the number of animals they help and house is mind blowing,” said Kiernan. “Their outreach helps so many other shelters and organizations across the nation that are struggling and may not have all the resources Best Friends does. I truly believe they are making a huge difference in the fight for no-kill shelters and bringing to light the horrid conditions animals have endured. My life was enhanced by this experience as I felt I was helping an animal in some way and appreciated while I was there. No matter what job I was given I was grateful to be there. I left Best Friends filled with some sadness to be going but mostly joy, hope and trust that their work will go onto greater achievements in helping animals and organizations in need across the world." There is something to do for all levels of interest and experience. Each of us wanted to do different activities while at Best Friends and the totality of that experience had amazing revelations for us as we came together at day's end to talk about what we did that day. "The highlight for me was doing massage therapy and TTouchTM with the disabled cats and dogs,” said another roommate Shannon Sumbler, ABC graduate, Garrod and her roommates kept trainer, rescue volunteer and aromatherRacko busy during apist from Los Angeles, California. “It lit a their stay, with training, enrichment, spark in me and reassured me why we socializing with do what we do for animals. Massage and people and other TM dogs,TTouchTM, tick TTouch usually get pushed into the removal, walks, and luxury category and deemed unnecessocial time with the group in their cottage sary, but witnessing the change in demeanor in such a positive way just by spending 30 minutes with an animal oneon-one was incredible. At times it seemed as though we breathed new life into the animals. Their eyes would light up at the end of a session and they carried themselves in a more collected manner. It was completely mind blowing. I feel so grateful for the whole experience." My third roommate, Cynde Van Vleet, BARKS from the Guild/November 2016



CPDT-KSA and TTouchTM practitioner added: "It had been about eight years since my last visit to Best Friends. I had always been there in a teaching capacity and had little to no time to explore. This time I made the time to see many of the areas as well as the beauty of Best Friends. I truly believe that every person needs to experience Best Friends. Each person will be affected in the way that is needed by that individual. For me, it touches a very special place deep in my soul. In 2006 I adopted a very special dog from Best Friends who had been a part of the Beirut, Lebanon rescue. He was a war survivor, as well as a distemper survivor. The extent that Best Friends goes to rescue is beyond compare and is a story I wish that more people knew. Because of Best Friends and our beautiful war survivor, Karma, our lives have changed forever!" Volunteering at Best Friends indeed comes with a special warning, a special animal may just steal your heart. A highlight for me personally was finding a special friend. Our eyes met across the room and the rest became history. A very special dog named Racko took my heart even though I worked with many, many dogs while there. Racko stayed with us in our cottage the entire time we were there and then as a result of our Facebook postings of him and our experience with him, he was later adopted and went to live in Oregon. When I had to leave Racko there, I was heartbroken. Said Kiernan: "The gals from my cottage (three professional animal behavior consultants/trainers/TTouchTM practitioners) made a suggestion we work with one dog we fell in love with and bring him back for a sleepover each night after our volunteer shift. Everyone had a part in the evaluation of Racko’s behaviors. Each night he got to learn something new. We couldn’t believe such a beautiful, smart, loving boy could be here a year without getting adopted. [And] we did it! We got one dog adopted out to a great home by sharing our experience at Best Friends." Kiernan removed every tick on Racko's body and groomed and bathed him to perfection. He was glowing and flowing by the time we left. It was agreed that Racko was one of our most cherished experiences. I highly recommend taking a dog back to your living quarters, on a hike, or both, and enriching his life and yours. Hands down we enriched Racko's life, as he in turn enriched each of ours in different ways. I, in fact, would have taken him home myself on the spot had I not had Skye, my recently adopted mini-Australian shepherd with a host of aggression issues (see Dodging Euthanasia, BARKS from the Guild, September 2016, page 14-20). To find out more, the BFAS Events page will give you a good idea of the various workshops and opportunities offered. I also highly recommend taking one of the many free tours to decide where you would like to volunteer or what to expect. The main BFAS tour is a good place to start if you are not volunteering. From there, tours are divided into the experiences of the various animal towns. A tour helps you decide what is engaging and gets your interest. Our week at BFAS was a week of revelation, inspiration, motivation, compassion, yearning, happiness, and sadness, and every emotion in between. n


BARKS from the Guild/November 2016

The cottages at Best Friends Animal Society offer stunning views of Utah’s red rocks


Best Friends Animal Society: Best Friends Animal Society Events: /events/workshops Garrod, D. (2016, September). Dodging Euthanasia. BARKS from the Guild (20) 14-20. Retrieved October 3, 2016, from _online/14 Diane Garrod PCT-A CA1 BSc is a certified American Treibball Association instructor, and a judge, charter member and marketing chair for the National Association of Treibball Enthusiasts. She is also the owner of Canine Transformations,, based in Langley, Washington, where she conducts Treibball workshops, classes and private consults.


Skills for Life

In the second of this two-part feature, Kama Brown introduces a selection of games to


help prevent canine frustration and support physical health

reventing frustration is an important skill for safe and positive dog handling. Frustration creates both physical and emotional stress and over time can cause many unwanted behaviors, such as lunging, barking, jumping and aggression. Reducing frustration should be a top priority in a training program.

Tug games provide an appropriate setting for dogs to engage in behaviors such as grabbing and pulling

Games that Prevent Frustration

Walking at a Slow Pace, Walk at a Fast Pace: Early leash walking should include lots of pace changes to prevent training the dog to pace. Unpredictable pace changes also delight dogs and make it easier for them to focus.

Following a Moving Target: Teach owners to use this game to keep momentum in training. If a dog is doing well in a new environment and is suddenly unable to keep duration on a cue, having the dog practice some targeting, either with an object you find on the ground or with your hand, can re-focus him. As a bonus, owners are easily able to practice lowering criteria while maintaining focus from their dog.

How to Weigh in on the Scale at the Vet: The scale at the vet’s office can be the first trigger to panic a dog that a bad experience is coming. Taking time to train a voluntary walk on and off behavior does a lot to keep a dog calm at the vet.

Collar Cues for Each Direction: Gently apply pressure to the dog’s collar and click and treat when the dog gives into the pressure. Train giving into pressure for each direction (front, back, left, right) up to a duration of about 3-10 feet. I train the forward collar movement for large dogs up to 50 feet, so the dog can easily be guided forward with gentle pressure from a hand holding the collar. It can help to begin with the dog being tethered, or with his front feet on a wide platform.

How to Properly Play Tug: Proper tug play has the ability to arouse a dog and use his excitement in a productive way. It is an excellent way for the dog to get to do dog things like bite and pull in a setting that is appropriate. Many owners can be wary of playing tug at first so teaching them how to manage the game is important. Always teach them “dead toy” so they feel they can end the game if they want to. Using tug toys in training has high value reinforcement potential and can be used very often, which is particularly apt when working to find a reward to use that can release tension and energy with reactive dogs or dogs that have trouble just settling. Choosing to Back up: Mugging is a behavior that clouds the dog’s vision when it comes to learning other things. If the dog is

© Can Stock Photo/PinkBadgergall

extremely focused on the treat in hand, whatever the hand is doing will be the salient cue. To avoid this, before beginning training other things, hold the treats in a closed hand and wait for him to back away from it. Backing away may simply be looking away or it may be sitting down. Shape the behavior as needed but make sure the dog understands that moving away from treats is what will get him the treat before training other things. There should be a definite cue that says “it is okay to eat now.” An open hand means eat, a closed hand means do not eat. Basic Husbandry and Gentle Restraint: I start this game with the dog on a tether or leash. I throw a handful of treats a few feet away and then put my hand on the dog’s chest while he sniffs the air towards the treats. Once he gives in to the pressure of my hand, I say, “go get it” and let him run and eat the treats. I repeat this with varying degrees of restraint positions, such as checking the dog’s ears or looking at his teeth. Allowing the dog to see the reinforcement ahead of time and then allowing him to move away from the restraint station lowers his level of frustration. It trains the dog to understand that mild discomfort is temporary and gives him something else to focus on. The dog learns to wait patiently for delayed reinforcement and builds comfort with body handling. BARKS from the Guild/November 2016


TRAINING Swimming is a low resistance workout that can tire dogs out

© Can Stock Photo/f8grapher

Long-Distance Wait: Using a long line, practice a wait behavior while you walk over to retrieve a delicious treat. Always walk back and feed the dog in his wait position so he is not primed to run towards you. If necessary, throw the treats behind the dog to encourage him to stay back while you walk away. Dropping an Object: Begin by dropping treats on the ground while saying, “drop it.” Soon the dog will automatically drop his jaw and any object in it when he hears this cue and look for a treat. Continue the training with a lot of tasty and fun objects for him to drop.

is equal to a 5-mile run) but growing bones will be protected while doing so. Swimming supports cardiovascular health, increases circulation and range of motion, while decreasing inflammation and ridding the dogs’ body of toxins. Forcing a dog to swim will always backfire. Some dogs are naturally hesitant about clear water and beginning in a creek bed can help those who are. Find a shallow option, such as a wading pool or small lake to begin with and encourage the dog with toys and praise for being in the water. Having experienced dogs around who love water or swimming in the water with the dog will usually encourage the dog. Two On,Two Off: This is a simple platform game that can be used as foundational training for many advanced tricks and canine sports. Choose an object that is about an inch off the floor and wide enough for the dog to comfortably stand on with two feet. Lure the dog forward over the object until his back paws are on the object and the front paws are on the ground. Practice Training a long-distance sit/wait is a skill that can be practiced in any environment and can help reduce frustration and increase impulse control

Games that Support Physical Health

All healthy and uninjured dogs, no matter what their age, can participate in canine conditioning on a level that is appropriate for their age and activity level. Conditioning training builds great owner focus and increases confidence being in new situations while improving canine health.

Swimming: Swimming is an excellent foundation skill because it encompasses a lot of training into one event. Introducing a puppy or dog to swimming builds confidence in new surroundings while building muscles. Not only will this low resistance workout tire a dog out five times faster than land exercise (a five-minute swim Stretching can be trained via positive reinforcement, as can duration, if required

© Can Stock Photo/FeSeven


BARKS from the Guild/November 2016

© Can Stock Photo/chalabala

with many different objects of varying heights and resistance for greater range of motion and flexibility.

Pivot: Practicing the 360 degree pivot on the front or back feet will increase core strength, stabilize weak areas, improve balance and build the dog’s awareness of the body’s position (proprioception). Using the pivot for performance work is an excellent foundation training skill for precision heeling in obedience and rally. Introducing the pivot on a wobble board will add an extra element of confidence building, trust and owner focus. Begin by placing an object that is at least an inch off the floor and as wide as the dog’s chest and shoulders. A phone book covered in duct tape works really well. Lure the dog with food pinched between fingers forwards until he steps with two feet onto the object chosen. Once two feet are firmly and happily being placed on the object, reward for this position many times over a few sessions before slowly stepping to the right and offering the food when the dog moves a back leg. Practice both directions and work until the dog is able to walk in a full circle with front feet on the object and back feet on the ground.

Balance: Balance is a foundation skill for core strengthening, increasing range of motion and flexibility, neuromuscular facilitation, sensory and perceptual stimulation, joint alignment, and balance control. Always make sure the object to be balanced on is secured and non-moving. Standing on the opposite side of the balance object and encouraging the dog to jump with two or four feet and reward for any movement towards the balance position. Add duration by delivering a treat that is steady and consistent the entire time the dog is holding the balanced position. Over time, duration can be increased as long as the dog has a hold cue, usually with a target or hand signal.

Stretching: Stretching is often overlooked though it is as essential as a warm up and cool down period when adding dogs into activities. Treat delivery is an easy way to train stretching, simply luring the dog with a treat right behind the shoulder on each side. While the dog is lying down, stretch him side to side by holding the treat in front of his nose and bringing his face around to the opposite side of the body. Slowly add duration to each stretch position. A target stick can also be used. Ask the dog to put his two front feet up on a tall surface, gently massage the rib cage and back until the muscles relax. Use a figure eight pattern. This also increases blood flow. Cavaletti: Cavaletti poles are used to find or improve a dog’s natural stride through small jumps that help increase range of


motion and elongate the muscles. Cavaletti work is excellent for strengthening a dog’s hind limbs, forelimbs and core muscles. This exercise also imposes body awareness, lengthens gait and teaches collected balance. Besides getting stronger, the dog learns to use all four of his legs in an efficient and coordinated manner. Start with a mat behavior or a “go to place” so the dog has a starting point as well as an ending focal point. Set one mat at the beginning of the poles and another at the end. Using a long line or off leash, lure the dog over the poles one foot at a time. Over time, increase the speed to a trot and increase or decrease the length and height of the poles until achieving a comfortable and balanced movement.

Stairs: Stairs can be used to strengthen hocks, rear leg and back quarter muscles. Choose stairs that are not overly steep and that have a non-slippery surface. Slowly walk the stairs with your dog, never forcing him and always encouraging him. n

Kama Brown CPDT-KA lives and works in St. Louis, Missouri and has been training dogs since 2008. She currently owns a boarding/training/grooming business with her husband and spends her weekends promoting the use of scent work and enrichment in training. She also teaches classes for competitive dog sports and overly-reactive dogs. She is a failed foster mom to three big, black dogs and an active member of her local SAR group.

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For people who are serious about their dogs!

BARKS from the Guild/November 2016



Fine Tuning the Training Approach

Lara Joseph explains how to identify and use positive reinforcers with exotic animals

When keeping exotics it is essential to make sure their lives are physically and mentally enriching

Molly the lemur tries to work out how to get the highly valued food reinforcer out of the syringe


he majority of the animals I work with are exotics or impaired in one way or another. I greatly enjoy working with undomesticated animals because I feel it really fine-tunes my approaches in training and keeps me focused on the subtleties of the environment. I also enjoy it because many of these animals do not rely on humans to survive, at least not directly. Of course, there are several animals such as the crow, the raccoon, and the rat that have all adapted to living within close proximity to humans because we make it so easy for them to survive on our waste products, or our reinforcers. They are also the animals we might call pests because they can quickly outwit us.Yet how we train them to be bigger “pests!” So many times I look at the endless measures people go through to prevent squirrels from getting to their bird feeders and I laugh and think, “Wow, they are doing a great job in teaching that squirrel to forage for its food.” I train a lot of zoo animals plus I help the companion animal community with the undomesticated animals they keep as pets. I also live with several exotics on my property and would have it no other way. Because of this I experience a similar thing to dog trainers, who often face comments such as, “Oh, I’ve always wanted a border collie.” In my case, when I explain what I do, I might hear, “Oh, I’ve always wanted a fox/monkey/cockatoo.” I never say “No, you really don’t” because telling a person their choice is incorrect will not usually get us the behaviors we are 40

BARKS from the Guild/November 2016

looking for. My job is to educate them and give them the tools they may need to inform themselves more responsibly. I have wanted a raven for about 10 years and have been doing a lot of research on ravens and other birds within the corvid family such as crows, jays, magpies, rooks and jackdaws. There is a story I tell to many people to set the wheels in motion in the minds of those that may think unique animals are pleasurable to live with. To me, they are, but they are not for everyone. When I tell people I have been doing my research on corvids for 10 years, they often ask me why I do not yet have one. I let them know how intricate these birds are and that I need to be sure I can keep one properly enriched; an intelligent, unenriched mind in captivity can make life very unpleasurable, not only for me, but for everyone in my family, and not least for the animal.You will often hear me say, “The more intelligent the animal, the harder they are to live with in captivity.” Modifying the natural and wild behaviors of animals to make them “convenient” to live with often turns into a lose-lose situation for all concerned. I work with both prey and predator and, the more I work with both, the more I realize each animal is prey to something and predator to something. The more vulnerable the animal is on the food chain, the more I have to adjust my approach and my list of reinforcers (both positive and negative). I also have to be more subtle in the identification of punishers (both positive and negative), and be more creative in my approach to the whole

training or behavior modification plan. Many times when I start training an animal, I may not know much about his natural history, but I will begin learning immediately. A question I might ask is, “Does this animal naturally function and live in a herd or flock?” If so, this could be a reason behind some of the exaggerated behaviors I may observe in a single animal. Or, “Does the species exist in a matriarchy or have a regular, observed hierarchy among members?” These could all play important factors in behaviors I am trying to understand. Or, “Do I understand the vocalizations, scenting, or grooming?” I prefer to begin observing what I see in the animal on an individual basis without initial research as I find it helps me better observe and measure behavior. Then I will begin my research. With wild or other undomesticated animals, often the only thing I have to rely on is their food or browse (leaves or bushes) reinforcers. Humans are natural predators to most exotics yet here I am, standing right in front of them with the intention of training them to recall, fly to my hand, or station by my side. Food is the only thing I have to work with along with the pairing of myself with both positive and negative reinforcers. I will often begin with days of full, at-liberty feeding and observation to identify the animal’s body language. I need to be able to best identify what scared, nervous, flooded, calm, excited, curious, etc. look like in the animal’s body language. At the same time, I am delivering a variety of food reinforcers and identifying what is eaten first, second, third, fourth and even fifth. As each day passes, the food bowl goes into the enclosure but the first, second, third, fourth and fifth food reinforcers remain in my pocket. In the beginning, I need to get close enough to deliver and pair myself with the delivery of the food reinforcer. Before I do that though, I will arrange the enclosure so I can approach and deliver the reinforcer with the least amount of stress to the animal. The water dish and food platform are usually accessible without entering the enclosure or within arm’s reach of the entry way. My approach is shaped and sometimes I will use negative reinforcement, as long as it is paired with positive reinforcement. The intention is always to drop the negative reinforcer as soon as possible. If the animal stays still, the positive reinforcer will be delivered and I will remove myself from the environment, creating space between me and the animal. I will then see if he quickly moves to the reinforcer. If he does not, then I know he has been pushed past threshold and my training plan will quickly work against obtaining my target behavior. The more I pair myself with the positive reinforcer and with frequent, short sessions, the quicker I see the animal begin to understand the contingency. Once he begins understanding this, I generally start to see the body language change from stiff to relaxed. I will then see his behavior change from staying still to

TRAINING Once an animal starts to understand the contingency in a training situation, their body language usually changes from stiff to relaxed

coming towards me as I approach the enclosure. This is the sign that the negative reinforcer is becoming removed from the training plan. In the beginning, food is often the only item that I can pair myself with. With consistent training though, I see the individual animal’s positive reinforcers change from just food to the opportunity to be near me, engage with me, or vocalize with me. Once you get to the point where the animal physically touches you of his own accord, it can be hard to not pet him. Petting though, can be severely aversive depending on the individual, his natural behavior, and so on. This is one of the hardest concepts to explain to the person I am guiding during the training process. Many times though, I only need to inform them once. The (often negative) consequence of them trying to engage in petting becomes the positive punisher for them not doing it again! n Lara Joseph is the owner of The Animal Behavior Center LLC,, in Ohio. She is also the Director of Avian Training for a wildlife rehabilitation center where she focuses on removing stress from animal environments. She is a professional member of The Animal Behavior Management Alliance, The International Association of Avian Trainers and Educators, and sits on the Advisory Board for All Species Consulting and The Indonesian Parrot Project.

BARKS from the Guild/November 2016



Learning from the Animals

Barbara Wright shares her experiences training chickens, hamsters, cockatiels, horses and


dogs, how we can learn something from all of them, and that training never really stops

y husband and I were watching a In author Barbara movie whilst our 1-year-old cock- Wright’s home, the chickens who had atiel, Ecco, was hanging out with been raised in the home were much us. We would often relax like this and friendlier than lately, we had started to have some trouble those adopted at an older age whereby, after a few spins flying around and a little bit of an exploring, Ecco would start having very aggressive “tantrum” episodes, especially when he could not sit where he wanted. I knew we needed to work out a solution as the behavior was starting to become a nuisance and we were letting him out of his aviary less because of it. To start addressing the situation, I placed Ecco’s perch next to us, sat him on it, and gave him a sunflower seed – his favorite thing. He looked at me, surprised. I offered him my hand which was met with an aggressive outburst of biting. I ignored him and backed off. He flew onto my knee, looked at me and waited. When I looked at him, he flew to his perch, again looking at me with anticipation. I gave him a seed. My husband said, “That was a fluke, I am sure he hasn’t figured it out yet.” I asked him, “Why?” and he said, “Because Ace [our extremely intelligent border collie] would take at least five attempts to learn that.” We would see about that. Ecco went for a fly then landed back on his perch looking at me expectantly as to say, “See, I got it after one try!” I am by no means an expert in multispecies training. Some trainers out there have trained many different species either at home or through their work. I am not like that, although my family has always had animals. When I was growing up we had a parrot and two dogs. As an adult, I have had three dogs, four chickens, two cockatiels, numerous fish and a hamster as part of my family, as well as two children and a husband. All these individuals give me great opportunities to improve my training skills and sometimes prove a concept to me in a different way than a dog can. The main thing is, these animals are part of the family and the behaviors they need to learn are largely to make living with each other easier and more fun. Being part of a family, 42

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having to learn to interact within a group, and living in a busy household entails a number of problems which many professional trainers may not always have to deal with. For example: •A lack of consistency of rules, children (and adults) who do not always follow instructions to the letter. •Adults who forget to give precise instructions. •The real world which often reinforces or punishes outside of our control. •A lack of time to deal with each situation as if it was a training opportunity.

A Different Perspective

I first taught my childhood miniature poodle, Reiko, to jump over makeshift obstacles made out of the croquet set. This was my first inter-species training experience. In those days dog training was not my thing. The dog was part of the family and just lived with us. However, the equestrian world was my interest, and Reiko proved the perfect partner to help me practice running a full routine of show jumping, including distance between obstacles to fit the right Ecco the cockatiel, reinforced with a amount of strides. This way I was able to sunflower seed, watch and understand the movements inlearned to station on his perch in just volved without having to focus on what I one repetition had to do while on the horse. I was only 10, but I understood the benefits of training another species to improve my skills, and also started to understand the differences that need to be addressed for each species and each individual animal.

Choose Positive

It took me 18 years from my initial cross species training experience with Reiko to turn the dial and test my dog training skills on my horse, Fantasy. It was 2002 and by this stage I was training to become a professional dog trainer. I had just read Don’t Shoot the Dog by Karen Pryor, and inspired by the possibility, I found myself with the horse, a bucket of carrots and apples and my dog training clicker, being mocked by my friends in the stable. What started as a bit of fun ended up in Fantasy learning how

to retrieve a ball. It was so surprising how quickly she got the idea of it, and how much she would perk up when allowed to demonstrate her very special trick. I failed to see it then, but the fact is that many equestrian-related activities are purely based on negative reinforcement. I am not saying that positive reinforcement did not and does not play a role, but, at that time at least, it was really minimal compared to the negative. I am no longer in the equestrian sport these days, but know for certain that if I were to go back in time, I could have achieved so much more by using the training skills I learned to train dogs. I do not just mean that I could have trained Fantasy to do many tricks. A positive, clear training system would have improved our equestrian achievements no end as Fantasy would have shown so much more positive energy in her work, not to mention the improvement in her quality of life would have been immeasurable.

Motivation Is in the Eye of the Beholder

Marmite, the Siberian hamster, has been with us for two months. She is officially my daughter, Haley’s pet. As a 9-year-old who had recently seen a video of a hamster doing agility, Haley could not wait to train Marmite the same way. A few days into her training she came up to me and said she was wondering whether Marmite was just not intelligent enough to learn. I asked her what she was rewarding her with and she said that she was petting her, as she would not take any food from her. That was the moment that sparked my interest. We discussed how, in the past, we had had chickens who had found it more interesting to be with us than to get food. We also discussed how Haley would not find playing Lego something worth working for, whereas her brother would do anything for it. And we questioned if petting and holding the hamster was actually a reward for her.

Preparation and Planning

We decided we needed a clear motivation hierarchy before we could even start training Marmite. We organized a list of foods and a plan to compare her preferences. We learned that training


Fantasy quickly learned to retrieve a ball via a spell with the clicker and her chosen reinforcers of carrots and apples

her in a bigger novel environment was not going to work to start with, as she was just too interested (and maybe scared) to pay attention to food or us. We finally taught her to position herself on the ledge of the cage door. Now we know that she is happy to engage and play the game when she comes and sits on that spot. We also know that edamame beans are the best, closely followed by tofu, but carrots are not worth working for. And now we are ready to work on hamster agility. Having done this detailed preparation, I expect it will only take us a very short time to train the actual task. When the reward is not something you can control, manage around it! What motivates an individual to learn and offer a behavior is crucial. While this has been often easy with our dogs and Ecco, it has proved much harder with our chickens. Living in a large yard with lots of freely available grass and worms means that a training reward has to be much higher value than what is freely available. We raised two of our chickens inside the house in crates and they very much loved our company. We were never able to train them not to hang out on our veranda, where they would watch us inside the house and patiently wait (and poop) until one of us came outside. It was my goal for them to be able to roam freely, while I also wanted a clean veranda. It was a simple management routine that accomplished this. Early morning one of us would go and collect eggs whist also letting the chickens out. Once we were all leaving the house, I would feed them left over scraps which meant I ended up with all of them in the enclosure. Then again in the late afternoon, we would let them out again, knowing that they would enjoy a limited amount of roaming, until their natural homing instinct would get them back to their coop.

No Punishment

Marmite the hamster was not motivated to train until her guardians worked out the foods that would be most motivational and reinforcing for her (see inset)

If you want to effectively train, cut out punishment. This was another thing I learned from my chickens. Punishment, which is almost always done completely inconsistently, is ineffective in changing a learner’s behavior. And please don’t panic: the chickens where the ones training me, and their punishment was badly BARKS from the Guild/November 2016



timed! We were extremely lucky that where we lived in innercity Sydney, Australia, although on a nature reserve, was completely void of any animals that would have harmed our chickens. This meant that we did not have direct and consistent punishment if the chicken coop was not shut at night. Needless to say, we would on some occasions forget or be too lazy to walk down to the garden, meaning that the chickens would make their way onto the terrace early in the morning, not only pooping everywhere, but pecking on the windows for us to get up. This badly timed punishment (a full night after not shutting the coop) did not train me any better to consistently shut them in at night. However, I never failed to trek out to the coop if I was picking new eggs in the morning. The positive reinforcement of getting fresh, beautiful eggs not only got me to consistently repeat the morning visiting behavior, it also meant I loved going out there in the morning, rain or shine. Before starting to train any animal it is important to have rapport and a relationship of trust

Trust Issues

Don’t even start training unless you have established a trusting relationship. It is a classic mistake so many people make – trying to teach when you have no rapport. With any individual I have worked with this has been crucial. Building a relationship whereby both trainer and trainee are comfortable and happy to engage with each other is essential. Things to consider range from being able to accept a reward and relax in the training environment, to being comfortable with the contact that is required (e.g. handling for husbandry needs). Strangely enough, I find that very little time and effort is often dedicated to these things, even though they might be amongst the most important before you start training. A very clear example of this was our chickens. For training and husbandry needs it was very important that they would be comfortable when being handled, lifted, restricted or even just close to us. Two of them had been raised indoors by us since they were 1 day old, while the other two had come to us at laying age. Throughout 44

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their lives with us, the difference between how they had been raised was enormous. The two with whom we had naturally done so much work with when young were much more trusting and comfortable around us. This meant they learned much quicker and became much closer to us than the two older ones ever did.

Training Never Stops

Finally, don’t forget that training is happening all the time. At the time of writing, Ecco had just started to copy the ring tone of my phone. It is surprisingly accurate and it is not something we have been actively teaching him. I do not know the reason behind him choosing this song over the many other sounds he hears just as often. Nor do I know exactly what he finds reinforcing about it. But it makes it abundantly clear that training is happening all the time in any and every environment. From the barista in your favorite coffee shop, who, after one comment about the beautiful design on the latte, showers you with daily designs too beautiful to be consumed, to the daughter who wants to wear a favorite dress because of a compliment she has received just once while wearing it. Positive reinforcement training is extremely powerful as it changes and molds the world we live in. It makes the world around us a better place. Regardless if it is your dog, your other pets, your children or a complete stranger, remember you have the opportunity to learn from your shared interactions and you can also improve your world while helping them make the most of theirs. n Barbara Wright is an honors graduate of the Academy for Dog Trainers at the San Francisco SPCA. She recently moved from Sydney, Australia to Singapore and has joined PPG Singapore’s steering committee. She has completed the Certificate of Excellence – Living and Learning with Animals with Dr. Susan Friedman, and the Life Skills for Puppies course at Lincoln University, England and, in 2005 founded Positive Puppies in Sydney, directed the company until 2015 and is now a consultant there. In Singapore, Wright has recently joined the volunteer team of Animal Concerns Research & Education Society,

Raising the Red Flag


In Part II of this two-part feature, Nikki Sherwin details why owners should view aversive methods and equipment intended to change behavior via pain or fear as red flags when considering day care options for their dogs Day cares should be full of dogs that want to be there, rather than dogs who are overwhelmed by the experience and would rather be somewhere else


For safety reasons, dogs at day care centers should not wear collars during play

s outlined in the first part of this article (see The Right Environment, BARKS from the Guild, September 2016, p. 39-41), the P.I.E.C.E.S.© approach is a model that ensures positive interaction and superior canine day care. (Note: P.I.E.C.E.S.© is an acronym for Positive Pillars, Interconnected, Education, Choice, Enriched Environment, Safety). Different facilities use different methods and standards, and opinions vary on what comprises good day care. In my opinion, however, the use of aversives should raise a “red flag” of concern, and dog owners should seriously consider the physical and psychological impact such practices could have on their pet dogs prior to committing to a day care facility. I believe the use of aversives negatively impacts the human-dog relationship as well as a dog’s physical, emotional and mental well-being.


Devices used as punishers to alter a dog’s behavior, either by being worn or used as a threat, place all dogs at risk for injury. A singular traumatic event may not only cause injury to dogs playing with another dog who is wearing a device, but could also cause the wearer’s behavior to worsen and generalize to other areas. The American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior (2007) notes that punishment can cause several adverse effects, including “inhibition of learning, increased fear-related and aggressive behaviors, and injury to animals and people interacting with animals.” The following is a list of aversives that owners should question: Spray Bottles and Shake Cans: The use of spray bottles and

shake cans may be commonly found in some day cares. They are used to stop barking, redirect dogs when arousal levels are increasing, or to get the dog’s attention. Although results are quick the question remains, “What are the dogs learning?” Are they learning to calm down, to stop barking or to give you attention? They may be learning to avoid the spray bottle or shake can and/or the person using them.

Leashes and Long Ropes Used as Tethers: Imagine a day care with dogs dragging long lines around as they play and/or dogs tethered to walls using long lines. What is your first thought? Is that tethered dog having fun? Is that dog safe? Long lines and tethers place all dogs at risk. They are at risk physically because the lines may tangle and cause serious injury to the dog(s). Angelica Steinker, accredited dog behavior consultant and owner of Courteous Canine Inc. DogSmith of Tampa, Florida, stated: “Tethering actually increases stress and reactivity, and according to Karen Delise, author of the book Fatal Dog Attacks, is one of the most dangerous things we do to dogs. Many counties in the United States are banning tethering. Tethering is dangerous for all dogs especially in a day care setting.” Collars during Play: The most innocent of play places dogs at risk when collars are involved. A dog caught in a friend’s collar panics very quickly. Did you know that a dog’s neck is similar to a human’s? Any jerk on a leash attached to a dogs collar from a dog pulling, racing to the end of the leash or leash corrections may suffer injuries. Problems such as the following could occur and affect your dog for life: BARKS from the Guild/November 2016



Neck or spine injuries. Skin conditions. Hyperthyroidism. Ear and eye issues. Paw licking. Foreleg lameness. Given this information, why would a day care leave collars on during play? In my opinion, a happy day care should be a naked day care.

It is essential that dogs in a day care environment feel safe at all times

Choke Chains and Prong Collars: As with collars during play, any equipment on a dog’s neck poses a threat, particularly equipment such as this that is designed to change behavior via fear or pain. In a high arousal environment such as a day care, if these types of aversive collars became entangled the result may be catastrophic. Did you know that in Switzerland it is illegal to use needle prongs for training? I can only imagine the Swiss opinion about them being used in day cares. According to the Swiss Animal Protection Ordinance, Article 34:Training of Dogs: 1. During dog training and at dog trials, displays of undue severity or the firing of shots to punish dogs as well as the usage of needle collars are prohibited. 2. Training instruments may not be applied in a manner to cause injury or major pain to the animal, provoke it, or cause it great fear.

Head Halter: It is my opinion that simply applying a head halter in a day care setting to induce a calmer state of mind is not a responsible or appropriate protocol. Significant physical and psychological damage may be done to a dog whose head halter is grabbed or caught by another dog or person. The dog’s neck can be jarred or twisted and neck or spine injuries may result. It is important that all dogs in a day care setting feel safe, are well superDay care staff must be educated in reading canine body language and monitor play sessions closely


BARKS from the Guild/November 2016

vised, and have places to have rest so that it is an overall positive experience. Senior Tellington TTouch ® instructor Robyn Hood stated: “The need to feel ‘safe’ is paramount when we have animals in our care. While there is a place to use muzzles and head collars (when introduced in a positive way and used correctly), in my opinion, to do so in a day care situation makes no sense and the potential for harm, both physical and emotional, is too great. The use of physical aversives is unlikely to create a positive association with other dogs and can increase unwanted behavior in other settings. I know that it is a challenging environment for care givers and the dogs. The employees need to have a good understanding of dog language and influencing situations in a safe, positive manner.”

Use of Force: Examples of use of force include the following: Hitting. Rolling dogs. Shouting or screaming. The use of force is unacceptable.

Muzzles: I do not believe muzzles should ever be used in a day care environment. They put all dogs at risk. They are not meant for long-term, unattended and/or free play time. Simply applying a muzzle and allowing a dog to enter play is not psychologically fair to the dog or safe for the other dogs in the facility. It does not address the root cause of any fear or concern felt by the dog. It also inhibits the dog’s ability to communicate to other dogs and makes it harder for day care staff to read his signs of stress. Communication is limited because the dog’s face is not wholly visible when muzzle is being worn. When Steinker was asked if muzzles, tethers or Haltis are an Long ropes and tethers can be dangerous, thus dogs in a day care setting should be unencumbered

effective means to calm dogs, she said: “I strongly feel none of these tools are safe. Head collars and muzzles could be caught on objects which make them unsafe to the dog. In addition, head collars and muzzles cause personality changes. If the dogs are requiring a personality change to be at day care then they are not a fit for day care in the first place. Ideally, day care is filled with dogs that want to be there, rather than dogs that are being overwhelmed because they don’t want to be there.” The P.I.E.C.E.S.© system provides a method for assessing dog day cares and can be used as a quick reference for dog owners, trainers and day care facilities to highlight positive approaches in the management of dog playgroups. Dog day cares that incorporate P.I.E.C.E.S.© build dog-human relationships based on trust, caring and respect. According to Dr. Susan Friedman (2014): “The power to control one’s own outcomes is essential to behavioral health, and the degree to which a behavior reduction procedure preserves learner control is essential to developing a standard of humane, effective practice.” n

The author would like to thank Angelica Steinker M.Ed. PCBC-A CDBT CDBC CAPT for her collaboration and support.

Nikki Sherwin holds a BA in psychology and a child and youth worker certificate. She started out working with children with behavior issues and, since 1997, has been a professional dog trainer. For the past nine years she has owned Woofs ‘n Wags dog day care and canine educational facility,, in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. She has also pioneered an educational forum called Canine Community Connects (CCC) with the goal of bringing like-minded positive trainers together at seminars.

PET CARE References

American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior. (2007). Position Statement on the use of punishment for behavior modification for animals. Retrieved July 17, 2016, from /wp-content/uploads /2016/08/Punishment_Position _Statement-download_-_10-6-14.pdf Animal Legal and Historical Center. (1981). Swiss Animal Protection Ordinance. Retrieved July 17, 2016, from www -protection-ordinance Delise, K. (2002). Fatal Dog Attacks. Manorville, NY: Anubis Press Friedman, S. (2014, April). The Value of Empowerment to our Pets. Retrieved July 17, 2016, from /tag/susan-friedman/ Sherwin, N. (2016, September). The Right Environment. BARKS from the Guild (20) 39-41. Retrieved September 27, 2016, from _online/39


Becker, M. (2012). Want a Well-Behaved Dog? Do More of This and Less of That. Retrieved July 17, 2016, from www. /positive-reinforcement-dog-training.aspx Cattet, J. (2014, March). How Do Dogs Think? The Scientific Revolution in Dog Intelligence. Retrieved July 17, 2016, from -dogs-think-the-scientific-revolution-in-dog-intelligence Miller, P. (2001). The Power of Positive Training. New York, NY: Howell Bookhouse

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* Order a monthly box of dog goodies for your canine friend! * Special rates available for gifts for dog friends * A portion of proceeds from each box will go to help dogs in need The promocode can be found in the Member Area of the PPG website: /benefitinformation BARKS from the Guild/November 2016



Crate Hate

Following a recent debate on a feline behavior social media group regarding the crating of cats, in this opinion piece, Jane Ehrlich sets out the reasons why she does not regard


crating as a valid tool in feline behavior modification

asy, human. I don’t mean using carriers to transport Noodles to the vet, I mean crating for the three most common reasons: as punishment for ‘mischief,’ to ‘cure’ inappropriate soiling, and, especially, for introducing her to other cats or dogs. When I wrote that crating was a poor idea on a cat behavior Facebook page recently, I got pasted, just pasted, by a few people who sputtered that they crated, and their cats were fine, and so on. I had obviously opened a box there. Some vets still suggest the idea, as do supposedly responsible, popular websites, including the host of a popular television program on feline behavior, and even some of the major organizations. I find no studies on the efficacy or impairment (either shortor long-term) of crating. However, I, and other veterinary behaviorists, have seen damage. I have seen cats who remain fearful, subdued, and those who, even after the crating has stopped, freeze or show incredible stress when in enclosed spaces later. Some have bleeding paws from futile attempts to scratch their way out, before resignation set in. Crating may look effective. It is certainly immediate, sometimes, but there’s calm and there’s toleration, and something even worse. And the impairment can last. Stay tuned.

Crating for Introductions

For example, in its article Introducing a new cat – the crate method, Adopt-A-Pet, suggests what a number of other websites, vets and clients suggest: crate the resident cat so the new cat can sniff around her. The article not only recommends a crate, but a moat surrounding it, “…a second barrier, so your current pets can’t go up to it. Put the crate up against a wall, make a waist-high u-shape cardboard wall taped with blue painter’s tape… to dining chairs on the inside of the wall…block the remaining tabletop with empty plastic water jugs so the cat couldn’t jump on the table…” Whew. The site also recommends crating the newcomer cat, while the “resident cat can come in and sniff all around the new cat’s room and the new cat in the carrier…” and throws in an aversive: “…have a water squirt bottle…just in case…” This is a controlled way of introducing both felines, and easier than room-swapping, and going through the slow introduction process, so why might I have an issue with this? To start with, cats dislike having no control, and being vulnerable. Putting a cat in a small box—and a crate is merely a box with holes— that another cat or dog can sniff around, moat or not, means she is a captive centerpiece, who may be getting sniffed, hissed and growled at. She is at a major disadvantage, in a forced position. 48

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Crating a cat for introductions, litter box issues or undesirable behavior is stressful for the cat and not conducive to learning

© Can Stock Photo Inc./halfpoint

She will not be feeling any more amenable towards the free cat. It is not fair to the newcomer, having just come from shelter cage or another situation, or to any cat who has to now adjust to new smells, new territory, new people, and/or another cat. Consistent, numerous reports from shelter and veterinary clinic staff, veterinary behaviorists and client experiences are considered legitimate evidence: that cats do not want to see what stresses them. There is no comfort with that kind of visual familiarity with the enemy. No behaviorist or veterinarian I know would sanction putting Noodles in such a position of enforced visibility to something that so distresses her. According to Dr. Leticia Dantas, veterinary behaviorist at the University of Georgia College of Veterinary Medicine, and diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Behaviorists, “Crating cats for behavioral control is inappropriate and inhumane, not only because it does not address the cause or etiology of the problem behavior, but also because it does not allow for two of the “Five Freedoms,” i.e. freedom from expressing normal behaviors and freedom from fear and distress. These freedoms are considered to be the minimum acceptable animal welfare standard for domesticated animals by animal welfare and animal mental health specialists.” (See box on page 50.) In my personal experience, cats whose autonomy is taken

huge, unrelenting stress upon the cat. As Dr. Tony Buffington, emeritus professor of veterinary clinical sciences at the Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine, says, relentless stress leads to systemic illness. They learn that nothing they do will change the outcome, so they submit and tolerate the situation. This is ‘learned helplessness.’ Submitting is not the same as calm.”

Crating for Undesirable Behavior

There is a second common reason for crating – so-called mischief, for example when the owner is away, at home, or sleeping, for a cat’s early-morning, inconvenient antics. One Facebook poster wrote that his/her cat “trained us to leap out of bed in the mornings when he tossed our things around on the floor. When we get up we feed him, so the earlier we arose, the happier he was, of course. On the advice of our vet, we got him used to a large crate, and he sleeps there all night.” That’s fine, as Mikkel Becker, author, certified canine behavior consultant, resident trainer at Vet Street said, “Consider giving kitty her own enclosed space [and] keep in mind that some pets prefer the closed-in space of their crate — the contained environment is similar to a den.” However, Adelman said, “Unlike some canid species, small felines do not have a ‘denning instinct.’ Among the wild small feline species, especially the ancestors of our domestic cats, the preferred resting/safe spot is an elevated, open placetypically the branches of a small tree.” On Pets WebMD, a popular ‘go to’ website for pet owners, in the article When Your Cat Wakes You Up, a Minneapolis veterinarian recommends crates because they “prevent mischief and help kittens learn that nighttime is quiet time…If you’ve got a laid-back cat or one whose behavioral needs are being met, then I wouldn’t be quite so concerned [that] the kitten continues to sleep in the crate once you’ve established the pattern." In my opinion, and based on my experience, that perception of a cat’s mentality is as much a myth as cats don't mind being crated for extended periods if you just teach them to enjoy it. Said Johnson: “How do clients qualify that their cats are ‘enjoying it?’ Who is measuring that? It may be a habit….conditioned, yes, but enjoyment? No.” Amongst the chorus of dissent I received on social media came from a reader who wrote, “We used a cage just as one would with a puppy, but allowed room for litter box, bed, water and toys. It interrupted his morning ‘alarm of destruction’ routine.” A common method, it seems. Said Adelman, “I have found crating to be used by owners for their convenience, but…they are not doing real behavior modification work; they are crating Photo: Susan Nilson

away take longer to adjust to the presence of a newcomer—and the likelihood of both cats getting along, or at least having a good measure of tolerance in the household, may be vastly diminished. In addition, part of the point of a slow-introduction without crating means that both cats have access to not only a room, but the rest of the house—hence the room-swapping—so that the newcomer gets to know the environment and the territory, a crucial component of any cats learning to be ‘at home’ with the changes foisted upon them. Ingrid Johnson, certified cat behavior consultant, veterinary technician and creator of the Fundamentally Feline website said, “Using this method, introductions cannot be positive. It has to be on the cats’ terms, and crating means the owner isn’t leaving them any [choice].” What to do instead: Follow a slow introduction protocol that separates cats by rooms, (one at a time, so no one cat has one safe spot to be possessive or defensive over) and swapping territories, so each cat has time in a room or two, then the rest of the home. By starting with a closed door, then a cracked door, then screen or gates, cats can be introduced to each other one sense at a time, only going to the next step when there is no negative body language from either side. Each cat slowly, gently, gets to know the other. When both cats are in the rest of the house, or in communal rooms, lots of tall perches and hidey holes should be available so they can retreat to safety, and what I call that crucial ‘environmental control,’ i.e. the ability to see who is doing what to whom, when, where, at all times. Certified cat behavior consultant and well-known author, Pam Johnson Bennett said, “Crating is dangerous advice. The crated cat quickly learns that he has zero control over the situation and stress levels skyrocket. The ongoing Interactive food toys stress response… if not relieved, can allow cats to engage have physical effects on the cat. This in natural behaviors such as hunting and method doesn't encourage the beginforaging ning of safe, reduced-stress socialization. In a natural setting where cats are getting to know each other, being trapped with no escape would do nothing to encourage them to move forward. Cats need the option to retreat but it must be their decision, in a location where they feel safe and with the ability to escape. Offering choice to a cat is one of the most important behavior modification tools.” What about that ‘stress response?’ Stress can take differing forms—from active efforts to escape, all the way to miserable resignation. The cats stay in the crate, or even voluntarily return to it, if, finally, given a choice. That is not free preference, it is survival. It is familiarity and is all he knows. According to author and certified cat behavior consultant Beth Adelman, “Crating is not positive reinforcement. It imposes


BARKS from the Guild/November 2016



the cat to avoid a problem. The fact that a cat is able to settle down in a crate with the door closed, or that a cat chooses to sleep in a crate that is always left out with the door open, or that a frightened/wary cat in an unfamiliar place prefers to stay in his crate, is no indicator that crating a cat as part of a training regimen is effective.” What to do instead: Recognize that the cat who is zooming, knocking over and racing across your face while you are in bed is acting normally—and is bored—and instead of releasing that healthy energy in a constructive way, crating is making that frustration a thousand times worse. Give him something healthy and normal for a cat to do, such as hunting for food. Johnson is an expert on foraging and environmental enrichment for cats; her website, Food Puzzles for Cats is full of ideas. “I’ve seen cats excessively grooming, even self-mutilating when they’ve been locked up in their crates at night,” Johnson said. What does a crated cat learn? Certainly not normal feline behavior such as socializing, playing, scratching, hiding, hunting, leaping—or if she does, she learns it is punished. Cats thrive with routine. Implement one so Noodles get what she needs before bedtime: hunt, eat, groom, then sleep. Just before you turn in, play with her using interactive (wand, pole) toys, and happily wear her out. Not so she is panting, but so that she is tired. Feed her the final portion of her meal. She will naturally groom herself, which both cleans and calms. And then she sleeps. Crazy-time zooms at 3 a.m.? That late-night snack with a little carbohydrate can help. Otherwise, yes, you have a couple of weeks’ agony as it will get worse before it gets better, but it will get better. Look at your house - what can you tack down (PlayDoh or Blu-Tack is great) so the cat does not knock it over? What can you put in drawers? What small rooms with fragile items can you close? Put breakables behind glass. Look at your home from a cat’s point of view. We all compromise. People child-proof their homes. Instead, we are cat-proofing.

Crating for Litter Box Avoidance

The third most common reason for crating a cat is as a punishment for litter box avoidance. In Crate Training Your Cat*, the Connecticut Humane Society (CHS) promotes the 30-day Crate Training Method as the way to do this: “Traditional wire dog crates work well…There should be enough room to hold a small bed and large litter box and not much more. Make sure the crate has a bottom tray to contain that litter. Put the crate in a quiet room…” At first, there is just a bed and food. Instead of a box, the entire bottom tray of the crate is covered with litter. Food and water bowls are attached on crate sides. Noodles is in there for a month! “Don’t worry,” according to CHS, she “won’t hold it against you… your cat will recover quickly…your bond will remain intact.” The cat stays inside the crate for the first two weeks, except when it is being cleaned, although you can dangle a feather through the wires. That’s it. The cat gets a litter box the second week and the third week, she gets to come out under supervision. By week four, she can apparently spend most of her time exploring the house. Supervised, of course. But she goes back in the box when you go out or are sleeping. By the fifth 50

BARKS from the Guild/November 2016


The Five Freedoms

he Five Freedoms are the five aspects of animal welfare under human control, originally developed in response to a 1965 UK Government report on livestock husbandry, made official in 1979 by the UK Farm Animal Welfare Council. The Five Freedoms have been adopted by many veterinarians, the World Organisation for Animal Health, the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, and many other organizations. They are listed as follows: - Freedom from hunger or thirst by ready access to fresh water and a diet to maintain full health and vigor. - Freedom from discomfort by providing an appropriate environment including shelter and a comfortable resting area. - Freedom from pain, injury or disease by prevention or rapid diagnosis and treatment. - Freedom to express (most) normal behavior by providing sufficient space, proper facilities and company of the animal's own kind. - Freedom from fear and distress by ensuring conditions and treatment which avoid mental suffering.

Source:The Farm Animal Welfare Council (UK)

week, Noodles is confined to the same room, but she can apparently be out when you are not home and at night. Instead of all that, let’s look at how a cat can let you know why she is avoiding the box to begin with. Stress? Medical? Box issues? Hormonal? Queens can be incontinent, for example. Under this “method,” you are teaching the cat not to soil her own living area—and she won’t; she is not stupid. However, the moment she is free, because the problem has been neither diagnosed nor sorted (note: urinary tract and/or bladder problems in cats can be extremely serious and, in some instances, fatal), she can re-mark, empty her bladder, and nobody has learned anything. Nothing has improved. Noodles has been jailed, not retrained. Crate training does not speed up the housetraining process for cats, then. As Johnson said, “We are not setting her up for success.” Another popular site, Petfinder, has a Facebook Q&A Can You Crate Train a Cat? The respondent to the question suggests crating for two weeks, with “no carpeting and nothing absorbent outside of his litter box and a bed. If he pees in the bed, he loses that as well…If he’s happily urinating in the corners, outside of the box, then you might do what we did with one Persian: He was confined to a cattery cage that had two resting platforms, one with his food and water and the entire floor surface was covered by different types of litter boxes with different choices of substrate. He virtually had no choice but to use a litter box. After two weeks, he was let out of the cattery for an hour or two after he used the box. We slowly lengthened his time outside the cage.” “Happily?” Medical reasons aside, a cat is usually anxious, not happy when urinating outside the litter box. Using a box is not something that is even taught—it is a matter of instinct, and kicks in about a month after birth or less. If Noodles is deliber-

ately not using his box, he is telling us there’s a problem, and that he is deeply unhappy. If the reasons are not sleuthed out, the misery, the problem remains. Oliver, a three-year-old domestic cat, was crated for urinating outside the box. The owners had “tried everything.” Everything included a water bottle, blasting horns, even spraying the places he went with lemon, and putting down foil and plastic sheets. In other words, everything but finding out why Oliver urinated near windows and doors. He was signaling territorial anxiety, and the owners did not realize. When the outside cats that had been bothering Oliver were persuaded to move to another area, and the outside walls/inside areas cleaned properly with an enzymatic and pheromone cleaner, peace reigned. Except that Oliver had been punished for weeks. His response went from fighting his owners when put into the crate, to constant yowling and crying with distress, to resignation—the kind of surrendering that implies learned helplessness. The owners did not understand why, when they took Oliver out for his time outs, there was no spark, no liveliness. Oliver had thrown in the towel. Instead: Learn the reasons for the cat’s soiling. Could they be medical? Having Noodles checked out is always the first course of action. Common issues include bladder or kidney stones, urinary tract infections, renal disease, diabetes, hyperthyroidism, or colitis. Are they hormonal? For example, is Noodles a queen? Could it be issues with the actual box? Check the litter type and depth, the box type, location, number of boxes (one box per cat plus one extra), and hygiene. What about stress? Have there been any household changes or changes in the relationships between the cat and people or other animals in the home? Are there any outside cats, or other deterrents, in the form of noises, or smells? Once you have considered all of this, address the issue, from behavioral modification to medication, if absolutely necessary. What about spraying? When spraying is a territorial announcement, if outside cats are reminding Noodles that his domain is threatened, being put into a crate won’t make him feel any more secure. Crating a cat goes against a cat's instincts and natural preference. It takes away his freedom and is strictly for the owner's convenience, not for the cat's instincts. Said Johnson-Bennett: “Crating this way can also undo any positive work a cat parent may have done with helping a cat become comfortable in a crate for car travel or trips to the veterinarian. The crate becomes associated with fear.” In fact, the point should be to avoid distress, fear, and insecurity in our animals to our utmost capability. Just recently I received this email from someone who listened to her vet/read it somewhere/got advice from somebody respected: “Put your kitty in a kennel and set it in the main room so the other cats can smell and get used to him. Then, tether him to a piece of furniture and take it from there.” This is such an unfortunate “solution.” It is essential for pet owners to realize that well-meaning advice is not always correct. Keeping a cat confined in a crate instead of learning why the problem exists and taking steps to correct the underlying issue and emotional state undoubtedly makes a huge difference to a cat’s mental, physical and emotional health. That not only sets up our cats for success, it makes us far better cat parents as well. n

FELINE Crating to address litter box issues does not set cats up for success, nor does it address any underlying medical conditions or negative emotional states

© Can Stock Photo Inc./okssi68

*BARKS from the Guild contacted the Connecticut Humane Society about the advice given in this document and was informed that the information was several years old and that the article would be removed for its team of behavior experts to review. At the time of going to press the article was still available.


Adopt-A-Pet. (2014). Introducing a new cat – the crate method. Retrieved September 28, 2016, from www.adoptapet .com/blog/introducing-a-new-cat-the-crate-method Connecticut Humane Society. (n.d.). Crate Training Your Cat. Retrieved September 28, 2016, from /c.8qLKK1MELjI2F/b.8684921/k.6647/Crate_Training_Your _Cat.htm Hawn, R. (n.d.). When Your Cat Wakes You Up. Pets Web MD. Retrieved September 28, 2016 from /cats/features/when-cats-wake-you-up Petfinder. (n.d.). Can You Crate Train a Cat? Retrieved September 28, 2016, from /crate-train-a-cat/ The Farm Animal Welfare Council (UK). (1979). Press Statement. Retrieved September 28, 2016, from www.webarchive uk/pdf/fivefreedoms1979.pdf


Food Puzzles for Cats: Fundamentally Feline:

Jane Ehrlich is an accredited feline behaviorist with over 27 years experience. She spent 18 years volunteering with the RSPCA in both clinical and behavior work and has her own consulting business Cattitude Feline Behavior, www, in Phoenix, Arizona, although her clients are located worldwide.

BARKS from the Guild/November 2016



A Quick Fix

Vicki Ronchette explains why changing antecedent set-ups can sometimes help achieve


an immediate behavior change

s a trainer and behavior consultant it can be frustrating when working with clients who do not have the time or desire to put in the work needed to change their companion animal’s behavior. If we expect an animal’s behavior to change, we need to implement changes in the world around them. Generally, this means changing how the owner is interacting with them, training them or working on a behavior modification plan with them. Quick fixes are generally not permanent, long-term solutions. However, there is one piece of applied behavior analysis that allows us to sometimes get a quick, sometimes immediate change in behavior and that is by creating a change in the antecedent.


You are probably aware of how behavior works, the ABCs of behavior, if you will: A – Antecedent: that which happens before a behavior and is required for a behavior to occur. B – Behavior: the behavior we are assessing. C – Consequence: what happens after the behavior which deWhite-capped Pionus Joey would behave very aggressively toward his owner but now seeks out her attention


BARKS from the Guild/November 2016

Meyer’s parrot Nemo loved to play in the trash can and would try to bite his owner if she tried to remove him

termines if the behavior will happen more or less frequently. If we are looking at “B,” the behavior, we know that in order for “B” to happen, “A” the antecedent must be in place. By simply changing the antecedent we can sometimes change the behavior or prevent it from happening. There are a lot of behavior issues that can be resolved or improved upon by just changing the antecedent. My late Meyer’s parrot, Nemo, loved to play in the trash can. The trash can was frequently sitting on the base of the play stand. When Nemo was playing in the trash can he would bite and lunge if you attempted to remove him. After a while of playing and hanging out down there he would climb back up onto the play stand. I could have spent a lot of time attempting to modify his behavior and teaching him to step up calmly from the garbage can, but the behavior of stepping up off of the trash can was not important to me. So I handled it in two different ways. On days when I had the time, I simply let him go down to the garbage can and play, then asked him to step up once he was back up on the play stand and off of the trash can. On days that I did not have the time and really needed him to step up when I asked him to I simply put the trash can just outside the door of the room or in another location in the room. Problem solved. He could not get on the trash can if it was not there. One of my own parrots is a White-capped Pionus named Joey. Joey came to me after a friend had a life changing event and could no longer keep him. Initially he would rush to the sides of the cage and bang into them and behave very aggressively toward me. I worked with him to the point that I can handle him regularly with no problems. He now seeks out my attention and asks

© Can Stock Photo/damedeeso

to come onto me. A few months ago I adopted an orange-winged Amazon, Dharma, from the shelter. I have several other parrots, but was a bit concerned whether Joey would accept her. He had been doing well up until that point, but suddenly stopped stepping up for me. He wanted me to rub his head, but he would no longer step up. He even nipped me for asking him a couple of times. I decided to start retraining him, but decided I would also move his cage in case the location or proximity to Dharma’s cage was affecting him. I moved his cage closer to my desk in my office and his behavior has changed dramatically. He is closer to me and a bit farther from Dharma and he is stepping up for me again. I was actually pleasantly surprised at this immediate difference in his behavior after changing the cage location. There are so many things we can change in a bird’s environment that may change his behavior. I worked with one bird who would climb off her play stand to seek out the owner’s girlfriend and bite her. In addition to teaching them to train the bird together, I also recommended a hanging play stand so that she could not simply climb off of it which worked well for this family. When faced with a problem behavior with a bird take a look at the environment and see if there is anything you can change in


the general set up to affect the behavior. Can you close the blinds so the bird cannot see outside to alleviate his alarm calls? Can you move the piece of furniture he is chewing 2 feet farther from the cage so he cannot reach it? Can you put him in his cage when the friend he does not like visits so he cannot fly straight to that person? You might be wondering about behaviors like biting. For instance, if putting your hand up to the bird to invite a step up is the antecedent to biting, then simply changing the antecedent is not going to be the way forward with this particular behavior issue. In this case, you would probably want to implement some training and behavior modification. All of these pieces can work together to change behavior and it makes sense to look at both the antecedent arrangement and the consequences when working through behavior issues. n Vicki Ronchette CPDT CAP2 is the owner of Braveheart Dog Training,, and the author of Positive Training for Show Dogs – Building a Relationship for Success. She is a raptor handler with Native Bird Connections and lives in Northern California.

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f the best o Bringing stry to chat, du the pet in and share! le k c u ch

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


If you would like to host an educational webinar for your fellow pet professionals, submit your ideas to: /PresentaPPGmemberWebinar.

Topics may include training, ethology, learning theory, behavior specifics... or anything else you can think of. We’ll even do some practice runs with you to help you along (if you need them!) BARKS from the Guild/November 2016



Performance Anxiety

Kathie Gregory explains how she helped her horse, Star, overcome her anxiety over hoof


trims by removing the pressure from the situation and using positive reinforcement

ou could be forgiven for thinking this article will focus on how horses cope with the demands of performance, how to reduce anxiety, and how to improve results. Performance anxiety in the arena is well documented, with many positive strategies available to help both rider and horse relax and give their best, whatever discipline they participate in. What is less often realized is that there are often many situations during everyday life when performance anxiety also comes into play. Essentially, it comes down to feeling pressured when asked to do something. This is often in conjunction with an expectation that a specific, and therefore correct, result should be achieved the first time. Having spent time practicing, we expect to perform to our best ability, for example, when taking a dressage test. However, most of us apply this criteria and standard to many of our interactions with our horse, regardless of whether we have trained for a specific response, or the circumstances in which we ask ourselves and our horse to perform. We feel we are being judged in so many situations and continually put pressure on ourselves to perform. It can be particularly apparent when we are teaching in a way that is considered different to standard, familiar methods. This makes us feel pressured and we become anxious: What will others think of our methods? What if our horse does not respond? What if getting a response takes too long? How do we deal with these issues? These are all valid questions to ask ourselves. People such as the vet and the farrier need to get the job done in a timely manner. They do not have a lot of time, and waiting for as long as it takes for a horse to respond is not always viable; something we are well aware of. But knowing this creates a problem because we think our horse must do what is needed immediately. We are now in a state of anxiety, and sometimes embarrassed at the thought of not being good enough to achieve what is asked. It also undermines our confidence as, if we do not get the result we need, we think it will reinforce the 54

BARKS from the Guild/November 2016

other person's perception that what we are doing is not effective. We have set ourselves up with performance anxiety before the vet or farrier even arrives! But if you ask, both vet and farrier are usually more than happy to give your horse time to settle. We are often the ones who feel we must not take up their time, and Star would become have everything ready anxious about having to raise her feet for in an instant. the farrier This state of mind affects how we interact with our horse, and the decisions we make at the time. The result of feeling this way changes our tone of voice and body language. Our horse will be aware of these changes. If we feel anxious it does not always cause the horse to worry, but he is more likely to do so when coupled with the other elements of the situation. We find ourselves asking the horse to do something different, use a new word for a familiar movement, or try to get him to respond immediately, asking again if he does not. This obviously has an impact on the horse, putting him in a situation he cannot handle, which causes him to feel anxious and unsure of what to do. He is now much less able to do what we ask, feels less confident, and also suffers from performance anxiety. That, in turn, makes us feel less confident. We then compound our feelings by thinking we have failed, and our abilities are lacking. Some people even think that perhaps forcefree is not possible, and they will have to go back to traditional methods as they lack the support they need to feel confident in what they are doing. This is not accurate, however. Support for working force-free may not come from those close to you, or those who work with your horse, but support is out there, you just need to find it. There is a huge force-free community of owners and professionals who can support and guide you on this journey.Your horse may not be good at standing for the farrier, but that is just one small part of his life. We put this type of activity on a pedestal, as if it is the most important. Obviously, if your horse needs veterinary or farrier attention then it is important, but you do not have to be perfect in that situation. Most of life is a journey of learning, and rarely do we to get it

principles. It was another six weeks before her next trim so I had some time to teach an alternative. I used my own method of freewill teaching, and found a way for Star to lift her feet with as little anxiety as possible. The solution I chose was to incorporate some of her ground work teaching into the trimming visits. When my trimmer arrived six weeks later, we talked first, not focusing on Star, letting her relax as much as she could. When he was ready to start he said hello to her, and I asked him to take a step back and not focus on her. This was important as it helped her feel less pressured. Often we watch our horse quite closely when we are trying to achieve something, and this was enough to make Star anxious. I then asked her to move, the opposite of the usual practice of standing still for the trimmer. Star's issue was picking up her foot, not keeping it in the air whilst it was trimmed. In fact, she visibly relaxed and rarely asked to put a foot down once it was in the air. The solution, then, was to ask her to have her foot held when she picked it up of her own accord as she moved, rather than us asking her to lift it from a standstill. This was achieved by asking her to step forwards or backwards one step, and picking up the trailing foot. Giving her something to do that she was good at and comfortable with changed where her mind was focused, backed up by positive reinforcement of verbal praise and pieces of apple. From there, we could change her perception of this event, eventually removing the emotions of anticipation, conflict, and anxiety that were previously associated with lifting her feet. You will come across people who do not have experience of working force-free, and do not understand why you cannot just make the horse do whatever you want him to do. If this is someone your horse sees on a If a horse’s owner feels regular basis, explain stressed in a situation, how it works along with their tone of voice and body language will the increased benefits that change, all of which person will see in handling will be picked up on by the horse and safety as you progress. If people are unwilling to handle your horse in the way you want them to, find someone who will. Some people will never change their views. Some will dismiss what you are doing as it is unknown to them, making them feel out of their depth. This is not your failing and it should not Š Can Stock Photo/pontuse

Š Can Stock Photo/sherryk

right first time without practicing, so there is no need to beat yourself up about what you have not yet taught your horse, or about what he finds difficult. Instead celebrate what he has learned, and how you can apply those skills to different situations. Teaching and learning is always a work in progress. As time goes by you will achieve more and more. If you know your horse has difficulties doing When a professional something, gets stressed, or you needs to get a job done a timely manner, it can have not worked on a particular in cause stress for both the movement long enough for it to animal and the owner be reliable, book a double appointment to give you more time. Generally, vets will be delighted to work with horses that are free from stress and fear. They know how this contributes to poor health, increased possibility of injury, and impaired recovery. They also know that a stressed horse is less reliable, and reducing the risk of something going wrong is always welcomed. We all know that when we are relaxed, our horse responds easily, and we take a step-by-step approach to teaching him. There is no pressure for us or him to perform, he can usually do what we ask, and if not we adjust to help him. When we are stressed and feel we must perform, we forget to think and instead of doing what we usually do, we do something else to try to achieve a result. What we should do is take the time to think about how we usually approach this. It is beneficial at this point to talk to whoever is here to see your horse. Whether it is the vet, farrier or someone else, they will want to know how the horse is and if there are any problems, or any other relevant information. Doing this at the start of the appointment gives you and your horse time to relax before he is handled. If your horse finds something difficult, find another way. When my mare, Star, first came to live with me, she suffered badly from performance anxiety. When we were just working together she could just about respond, but it was very hit and miss in those early weeks. Despite our best efforts, our body language changes when we have to achieve something compared to when it does not matter if it happens or not. The moment I tried to actively achieve something, or someone else was present and Star was the focus, that was it. She would shut down and could not do anything. This was something of a problem for my hoof trimmer as, on the first visit, Star stood stock still and was unable to pick up a foot. Eventually she did after a lot of cajoling, pieces of apple, and moving the pile of hay, but it was very stressful and would obviously have a hugely negative effect on subsequent hoof trims. Occasionally our horses do need treatment that cannot wait, and trying to keep stress and emotions low is all you can do. Star's feet badly needed looking at, but once done, I had no intention of repeating this stressful routine. Suggestions of pushing her to change her balance, or place pressure on her leg until she moved were out of the question. Instead I stuck to my


BARKS from the Guild/November 2016



**OTVSBODF Coverage OTVSBODF Coverage for for Star preferred to pick up her feet when she was moving rather than stationary, and was reinforced for the behavior with praise and pieces of apple, thus eliminating her anxiety over the farrier’s visits

make you question yourself nor change your approach. Have confidence in your force-free work, and let the results speak for themselves. As people start to notice how great and easy your horse is to manage, they will want to know how you achieved it, and they may incorporate it into their work too. n Kathie Gregory is a UK-based animal behavior consultant who trained under Prof. Peter Neville at the Centre of Applied Pet Ethology, and is a practitioner member of the COAPE Association of Pet Behaviourists and Trainers. She has worked with animals for over 15 years, mainly with horses and dogs, although she also works with cats, sheep, pigs, cows and other species. She developed freewill teaching, an expertise focusing on raising cognitive awareness and understanding, in order to give animals the ability to reach their full potential. For further information, see Freewill Teaching,

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Evaluating Research

Patience Fisher looks into the pitfalls and limitations of scientific studies, and highlights ways

very behavior consultant knows one cannot always rely completely on a client’s description of a pet’s behavior— you have to see that behavior yourself. Trained eyes see differently. This is just as true for analyzing research studies. It is important to understand the underlying principles of research to see what the research really shows. In this article, I will explain that causation and correlation studies seek different answers. I will also discuss the inherent limitations of even a well-done study. The importance of statistical significance and confounding factors will be discussed, as well as the problem of false positives.

Causation studies seek to find out if one factor causes something else to happen, such as in the case of cats who use the litter box versus those who do not © Can Stock Photo Inc./Tiplyashina


to help readers be more aware of what to look for

The Truth by Authority Trap

Have you ever heard a behavior consultant validate an approach by dropping a well-known name that agrees with him/her? This is what Nigel Warburton called the “truth by authority trap,” which he discusses in his book, A Little History of Philosophy. For hundreds of years after Aristotle’s death, people would discount any new hypothesis that contradicted him. Because of “truth by authority” it was not until about 1,900 years later that Aristotle’s hypothesis that a heavier object would fall faster than a lighter one was tested and disproved, by Galileo Galilei. As Warburton states, “Authority doesn’t prove anything by itself.”

Correlation versus Causation

Correlation studies help us to form hypotheses to be tested by experiment. A case study is a correlation study with a sample of one: it has no statistical significance. Multiple case studies that proceed alike are more compelling, but still do not show cause and effect. Cross-sectional studies see what is happening to a group at one point in time. They are the most compelling type of correlation study, but even they can only show whether or not two variables trend together. They are done to see if the expense of a causation study is justified. So be careful about jumping to conclusions based on cases that you, another consultant, or a veterinarian has seen. Let’s consider an imaginary cross sectional study that shows a correlation between coffee drinking and lung cancer. Ideally, you would want all variables besides coffee drinking—age, sex, diet, health, genetics, etc.—to be the same in both groups. Since this cannot be done outside of the laboratory (if even there), scientists strive to make the two groups as alike as possible and use a large sample size. Scientists also look for “confounding factors”— variables that trend together. In the above example, the fact that smokers are more apt to be coffee drinkers is a confounding factor. Causation studies, on the other hand, seek to see if a something causes something else—in more scientific terms, the effects of one variable on another. There is always a control group—a

group that is not subjected to what is being tested. For example, an experiment to determine if declawed cats miss the litter box more often would require a control group of cats with claws. Cause-and-effect research on the effect of declawing on litter box use could randomly declaw one group of kittens and leave another group with their claws, and then follow them over time in identical settings, possibly in a laboratory. Not only is this expensive, it is hugely ethically questionable. A cohort study would be more applicable to pet behavior research. Cohort studies, for example, would follow two groups of owned kittens—clawed and declawed—over a period of time and keep records of litter box use. Since the selection of which kittens have their claws removed is not random, we must look for confounding factors— are there variables that people who choose to declaw their cat have in common? For instance, are they less apt to have litter boxes in accessible places, and more apt to have them in basements? The list of possible confounding factors can go on and on. Note: Declawing is illegal in many countries as it is considered inhumane (see Resources on page 58).

Sample Size and P-Value

One way researchers try to deal with the problem of confounding factors is to use a large sample size. Statistics can then be used to find the strength of the relationship between the variables: in my example, between missing the box and being declawed. Statistics is a complex subject, but one useful number to understand is the p-value. If a relationship is found between declawed cats and missing the litter box, the p-value is an indication of whether or not this relationship is due to chance. For example, consider two groups of 50 cats: a declawed group and a clawed group. Let’s say I see a correlation between declaws and BARKS from the Guild/November 2016


missing thehasbox, with a a p-value of 0.05. This means that if instead come Mary Lou on of 100 cats into two groups of 50 clawed way: Drawing long of dividing that group their own experiences and behavior I randomly made two groups of cats, with 50 helpdeclawed, can 50 moreno regard as to whether or not they had claws, bewith consultants cats in each, empathetic towards there wouldand be the a 5 per cent chance that I would get the same their clients facing is 0.10, then there is a 10 per cent chance are issues they result. If my p-value with their pets that the randomly constructed groups would have the correlation I obtained in my research. The higher the p-value, the more likely any observed correlation in a study is due to chance. A correlation is generally considered statistically significant if the pvalue is less than 0.05. Unfortunately, p-values are not definitive—sample size affects their accuracy. In addition to sample size, another important factor in a well-designed study is to define all of the terms. In my example, what exactly is missing the box? A more challenging behavior to define is friendliness. A variable must be measurable. Perhaps I could define friendly as a cat who, when taken in a carrier to a novel room by a novel person, exits the carrier and approaches the person within 30 seconds of the person opening the carrier. The terms used in research must be so scrupulously defined that a second researcher can use them to replicate the experiment and get the same result. Which brings me to my second point— experiments must be replicable. If other researchers cannot replicate my results, my findings lose their significance.

False Positives

“False positives” are, unfortunately, common. In Professor McGue’s 2015 University of Minnesota course, Behavioral Genetics, he discusses why. Sample sizes are invariably too low due to cost and difficulty in dealing with large numbers of subjects. McGue states that sample sizes less than 100,000 are prone to false positives. If the size of the effect under investigation is typically small, the problem of having a small sample size is compounded. Again using my example, if 4 per cent of one group of 50 cats and 10 per cent of the other group of 50 have litter box issues, then only a total of 7 cats (2 + 5) are showing the effect being studied. Considering that there are many potential reasons any of the study’s cats could be missing the box, this is a very small effect number. Also, consider that my study design and my definitions could influence my outcome—maybe my data in my “friendliness” experiment shows many cats approaching the person after 40 seconds, so I change my definition. A researcher who shows a correlation is more likely to get additional funding than one that shows no correlation, which is a factor that promotes false positives. Of course, if there is a financial benefit to not showing a correlation, that may be an influence as well. Both of these influences may be inadvertent. Even scientists trying to be neutral may be subconsciously influenced by their desire for a certain outcome. The importance of not fooling yourself is discussed at length by Nobel-prize winning physicist Richard Feynman in his commencement address at Caltech given in 1974. Feynman discusses Robert Millikan’s Nobel-prize winning research in 1923 that measured the charge on an electron by an experiment with falling oil drops. Feynman explains: “[He] got an answer which we now know not to be quite right. It's a little bit off, because he had the incorrect value for the viscosity of air. It's interesting to look 58

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at the history of measurements of the charge of the electron, after Millikan.” Many researchers got the correct, higher number, but dismissed it: they assumed that they must have done something wrong, because Millikan was such a brilliant scientist. So they would look for and find a reason why something might have been wrong, and redo the experiment, trying to get a value closer to Millikan's. However, the numbers they dismissed were actually correct. They eventually figured it out, but the respect they had for an authority such as Millikan slowed up their discovery. Feynman elaborates: The first principle is that you must not fool yourself—and you are the easiest person to fool. So you have to be very careful about that. After you've not fooled Friendliness is a challenging behavior yourself, it's easy not to to define as fool other scientists.You just variables must be measurable have to be honest in a conventional way after that.” n


Warburton, N. (2012). A Little History of Philosophy. New Haven, CT:Yale University Press Feynman, R. (1974). Commencement Address at Caltech. Retrieved September 28, 2016, from www.calteches.library


© Can Stock Photo/axelbueckert


Ehrlich, J. (2015, Nov). The Many Functions of Scratching. BARKS from the Guild (15) 40-42. Retrieved September 28, 2016, from _2015_online_opt/40?e=4452575/30971067 Garber, P. (2015). Alternatives to Declawing. Pet Professional Guild Educational Handouts. Retrieved September 28, 2016, from /Advocacy%201%20Alternatives%20to%20Declawing.pdf Lehet, B. (2016, May). Declawing Can Cause Behavioral and Emotional Changes in Cats. The Guild Blog. Retrieved September 28, 2016, from /declawing-can-cause-behavioral-and-emotional-changes-in-cats Patience Fisher BS DipFBST CVA BSBIO is a certified veterinary assistant and owner of Patience,, a feline behavior consulting service located in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. She volunteered at shelters for four years, helping with cat adoptions and specializing in fostering cats with behavioral problems, and is also an academic freelance editor.


The People Factor


Niki Tudge highlights the need to be able to train, coach and mentor people, as well as animals, for pet industry professionals


© Can Stock Photo/damedeeso

have always been a little perplexed by the titles we in the pet professional industry assign to ourselves, given what most of us actually do. Dog behavior consultant, dog trainer, dog behavior technician, the list goes on and on. If one were to look up the words ‘consultant’ or ‘trainer’ in the thesaurus, any of the returned synonyms have probably been used by a pet industry professional on a business card, website or blog. Here, let’s try it. When I look up ‘consultant’ in the thesaurus, advisor, mentor counselor, expert, professional, authority and guide are all thrown back at me. Now let’s try ‘trainer’ and see what happens. I get coach, teacher, guide and instructor amongst others. I now wonder how some of these terms are defined according to Wikipedia and this is what I found: • Trainer - a person who trains animals for obedience, tricks and work. • Consultant – a professional who provides professional or expert advice. • Coach – one who supports a learner in achieving a specific personal or professional goal. What are we actually missing here? Here is a clue: there is a distinct lack of reference to the individual, i.e. the human being, in any of these definitions. I find this dismaying as I propose that much – if not all – of the work of a

The Pet Professional Accreditation Board

PAB offers the only psychometrically developed certification for professionals who believe there is no place for shock, choke, prong, fear or intimidation in canine training and behavior practices. In the pet industry’s present state, any individual who so chooses can promote themselves as a dog trainer or animal behavior consultant, regardless of academic credentials, skills and knowledge. There is currently no government oversight whatsoever in the pet training industry. As a result, anyone is free to open and conduct business. This leaves pet owners unaware of the differences between “balanced” training, positive reinforcement training and dog training and behavioral counseling in general. To address the need for consumer protection, animal welfare and a high level of skill proficiency, the PPAB offers a professional accreditation program that ensures transparency and accountability among pet trainers and behavior consultants. The program’s goal is to provide a meaningful credential that supports pets and their owners and guarantees an unprecedented high level of competency for force-free pet professionals.

pet professional, is actually teaching, training and coaching people rather than dogs or other pets. Our clients, the four-legged ones, live with the people who are our two-legged clients. They are supervised by people, cared for by people and trained by people. In fact, all these activities take place with and under the management of the human family and not the dog trainer. There are, of course, exceptions to this. For example, some professionals offer services like Board and Train programs, Day Training and Latch Key® Training where all the actual skill training is conducted by a professional. However, even in these situations, the dog goes back to his home and family once the program is completed. As such, in the absence of a transfer of knowledge and/or mechanical skills from the professional to the pet’s owner, any financial investment or time initially spent risk becoming redundant, given that the program will ultimately lack longevity. There is much chatter within the pet industry about transparency, competency and accountability amongst professionals. The Pet Professional Accreditation Board (PPAB), an organization that operates an independent accreditation program for force-free pet professionals and strives for this trio of nouns, outlines the concept eloquently (see box, left).

Are We Really Competent?

What is our definition of skilled help? The academic knowledge and skill competencies required It is important to train animals are well-documented through that pet industry many of the credentialing bodies or reputable colprofessionals are good teachers as leges, academies and institutes established within well as trainers the pet industry. One only has to inspect the educational curricula on offer to note the repetition of similar topics. Subjects such as learning and behavior, academic knowledge, mechanical skills, procedures and protocols are delivered through modules designed to teach students how to train dogs.Yet once again, where do the knowledge, skills and talent to competently teach or train people come in? Given the lack of focus on people teaching skills generally in the education of pet industry professionals, I wonder whether What is Competency? In any professional field, competency is considered the most ethical obligation a professional has. Competency is typically defined as having professional knowledge. It demands that professionals have been schooled in the theory and research of their industry and, as a result, hold the necessary skills to apply that field of knowledge to a working situation with their clients (Welfel, 2009).

BARKS from the Guild/November 2016


BUSINESS A well-schooled individual may not necessarily be mechanically competent and vice versa

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this deficiency renders us inept to deliver on our professional services, or whether it is an insignificant issue. In the fields of dog training and behavior, these necessary skills normally refer to the professional’s skills in interviewing, behavior analysis and mechanics, as well as their ability to use the relevant behavior modification protocols and procedures to meet the client’s goals. It is imperative, however, for us to understand that competence is the measure of actual professional performance and not the level and amount of education one has received. High levels of education do not guarantee competency and, conversely, a professional lacking a high level of education does not correlate to a lack of competency. Recognize Your Own Levels of Competency! What is critical is that, as professionals, we recognize and acknowledge our own competent skill set and work within its confines.To do otherwise would be both unprofessional and unethical.

There are plenty of examples of well-schooled individuals who fall short of competency when considering the above definition. There are also many mechanically competent, skilled trainers who cannot articulate why what they are doing is ineffective or inefficient, due to their lack of theoretical knowledge. In the fields of animal training and behavior, it is widely accepted that it is unlikely, if not impossible, to be fully competent across all the varied industry services. As a result, some professionals elect to be very strategic when defining their scope and elect to narrow their focus to areas they both enjoy and where they feel competent. From a marketing perspective, selecting limited services and marketing oneself as an expert across these services only can be a strategically savvy move. What is critical is that, as professionals, we recognize and acknowledge our own competent skill set and work within its confines. As a passionate agent for change within the pet industry, I am always looking for ways in which we can be more effective, more competent and more engaging. Having spent over 20 years as a leader in the service industry and over eight years prior to that teaching people how to train others in new skills and knowledge transfer, I am absolutely convinced, without doubt, that this is an area of our supposed expertise as pet professionals that is blatantly overlooked in our roles as service providers, trainers, coaches and consultants. I believe this lack of competent people training skills is responsible for many of the issues currently plaguing individuals 60

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and businesses within the industry. All things being equal, if one has all the necessary attending expertise and behavioral analytical skills within the scope of pet dog training yet one is still experiencing some of the issues outlined below, then it is my hypothesis this is directly related to one’s ability to train, coach and mentor people. These are skills that do not come naturally for many and, consequently, require some additional education and adult learning. As a pet industry professional, can you relate to one or more of the following problems within your business? • Difficulty in converting prospects to customers. • Private training clients who start out “gung ho” and then fall off the program prior to achieving their goals. • Substantial group class attrition. • Time expended trying to convince clients rather than train them. • Frustrated clients who appear to just “not get it.” • Lack of knowledge retention in your clients across your training services. • An apparent lack of client commitment to your methods and suggested ideas. • Incomplete homework assignments and insufficient practice of skills. • Difficulty and frustration engaging clients and changing their attitudes so you can build consensus and support their needs.

Are We Trainers or Teachers?

If we work on my premise that many of our pet business operational or service woes are a direct result of a deficiency in our hands-on people training skills, then perhaps we should establish whether we are in fact trainers, teachers or neither. n

Trainers have to be as proficient at communicating with their human clients as they are with the dogs under their charge


© Can Stock Photo/damedeeso

Pet Professional Accreditation Board: Welfel, E.R. (2009). Ethics in Counseling and Psychotherapy. Standards, research, and emerging issues. 4th edn. Pacific Grove, CA: Brooks/Cole. Niki Tudge PCBC-A AABP-CDBT AAPB – CDT is founder and president of the Pet Professional Guild,, The DogSmith,, a national dog training and pet-care license, and DogNostics Career College,, and president of Doggone Safe, She has business degrees from Oxford Brookes University, UK and has achieved her DipABT and DipCBST. Recently, she has published People Training Skills for Pet Professionals – Your essential guide to engaging, educating and empowering your human clients.


A Special Legacy


In our ongoing series of PPG member profiles, this month BARKS features Barbara Hodel of Goodog Positive Dog Training in Bayview, New South Wales, Australia

arbara Hodel got Zorbas, a kelpie cross at the age of 8 weeks 12 years ago and he was a challenge from the first day. She soon realized that he needed more than just training and thus started her journey into dog behavior.

Barbara Hodel with Shellbe (back) and Zorbas

Q: How did you first get into animal behavior and training, and what are you doing now?

A: I first did a Certificate IV with the Delta Society in Australia and then a diploma of canine behavior science and technology with the Companion Animal Science Institute (CASI) in Canada. I have been running my dog training business for the last nine years, full time for the last five.

Q:Tell us a little bit about your own pets:

A: I currently have two dogs, Zorbas, who is now almost 13 years old and Shellbe (short for ‘she'll be right’), a 4-year-old German short-haired pointer. I compete in agility, Rally O and obedience with her and she is doing well. I also have three chickens. They are not trained but have a great recall.

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

A: I wanted to help my own dog and found my passion, if a bit late in life.

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

A: I have always been a force-free trainer. My background is in adult education. In this field we have been using a co-operative approach for decades and I did not really see any reason to change that. Q:What do you consider to be your area of expertise? A: Teenage and rescue dogs

Q: How has PPG helped you to become a more complete trainer?

A: It is sometimes hard to be in an unregulated industry where it is still common to use force. So being able to join an association that promotes force-free methods and trainer is vital for my sanity.

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

A: I am a big fan of management and setting the dog and the owner up for success. I like the idea of teaching owners to actively look for the good things their dog does instead of just being reactive and trying to redirect. I also believe that stingy dog trainers go nowhere so I advocate a very high reinforcement rate. Another pet topic of mine is a balance in physical and mental exercise and stimulation. Q: What is the funniest or craziest situation you have been in with a pet and their owner? A: I walked into a one-on-one consult with an extremely exuberant Labrador, who was jumping all over me. The owner had absolutely no

control. The dog was beyond excited and border line anxious. The owner asked me how I was going to 'fix' his dog. When I said that I was not going to fix his dog but that he would have to do a lot of work with him he looked at me in complete disbelief. He seriously thought that I would solve the problem he had with his dog for the past 16 months within an hour. It took some serious discussion to get him onto the same page and months of training to get the dog to calm down and behave in an acceptable way.

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

A: To be able to help people build a better relationship with their dogs and better understand what makes their dogs tick. I also love the success they have by using positive reinforcement methods.

Q: What drives you to be a force-free professional and why is it important to you? A: Only a force-free approach will encourage learning based on mutual trust and respect. It is also by far the most effective way of training.

Q: What is your favorite part of the job?

A: I love helping people form a bond with their rescue dogs and see a positive relationship develop, which ultimately keeps the dog in his/her forever home. I love teaching agility because it is so much fun. It also gives me a break from the more serious cases and the heartache associated with some of them.

Q: What awards or competition placements have you and your dog(s) achieved using force-free methods?

A: Shellbe and I have gained our Rally Novice Title, Jumping Excellence, Novice Agility, Novice Snooker, Novice Strategic Pairs and Novice Gamblers under Australian National Kennel Council rules.

Q: Who has most influenced your career and how?

A: Probably James O'Heare. I am an academic at heart (I hold a couple of master’s degrees in unrelated fields) and just love the science based approach. When I did my diploma with CASI I had been in business for about seven years and it confirmed that I was on the right track, but it also challenged some of my approaches.

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

A: Get an education that is nationally recognized with an organization that endorses force-free training methods only. Build a network of like minded professionals in your area and stand up for what you believe in. n Goodog Positive Dog Training is located in Bayview, New South Wales, Australia To be featured in the BARKS Profile section, complete this form: BARKS from the Guild/November 2016



An Essential Resource

In How to Right a Dog Gone Wrong, Pamela Dennison lays out everything owners and

professionals need to know to effectively understand and deal with aggressive behavior.


Reviewed by Niki Tudge

was first introduced to Pamela Dennison's book in 2010 when I found myself the proud foster to an Australian shepherd dog with serious issues. In my search for case studies and any literature that might be able to help me deal with her, I came across the first edition of How to Right a Dog Gone Wrong and found it full of great tips and solid advice written to support and help those in similar situations to the one I found myself in. Now in its second edition, I was delighted to reacquaint myself with this valuable resource and ferret out all of the new pearls of wisdom and advice. I found the experience nothing less than an essential resource for any parent, foster home, trainer or rescue worker who has taken on the daunting challenge of righting a dog gone wrong. From the outset Dennison takes the reader on an expedition into aggression by defining it and helping them to understand its origin, purpose and necessity to an animal’s survival. As any book on aggression should, the so-called labeling syndrome is addressed very early on with recommendations to simply state what the dog is reacting to, rather than stratify the behavior into one of numerous aggressive labels. This provides us with a common understanding that can be shared. Dennison does an exceptional job of identifying the causes of aggression. These include discussions on the accidental reinforcement of inappropriate behaviors as well as behaviors that result as fallout from the application and use of positive punishment. The author also provides a healthy dose of education on canine communication including the subtle and early onset signs of aggression. Throughout the book, she emphasizes the need to support pet owners in addressing their pet’s problems by highlighting that the “overriding element critical to success in working with your aggressive dog is your own recognition and acceptance of your dog’s issues and dedication to helping him overcome them.” The book also accommodates the needs of puppy owners and solutions can be found throughout to support the key goal of prevention being the best cure. Dennison provides solid recommendations in all shapes and sizes from management and training activities to common sense safety protocols. I particularly commend the no nonsense emphasis on getting rid of “the old dominance role model—it really doesn’t matter. Let’s work with the behaviors we need, rather than getting stuck in a 62

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debate that ultimately is pointless.” How to Right a Dog Gone Wrong does an exceptional job of explaining to pet owners and professionals how pets learn, and the 12 foundation behaviors needed to help prepare them for, and facilitate, the necessary desensitization and counterconditioning programs. All these are clearly and expertly described and explained. Spoiler alert: Pay particular attention to the first five foundation behaviors and the nine well thought-out “Golden Rules.” These will reinforce your learning and help you develop your own program to help you right a dog gone wrong. A highly recommended read. n How to Right a Dog Gone Wrong Pamela Dennison (2016) 288 pages Shadow Publishing ISBN9780996665544


If you are an applicant in the system and on the road to accreditation, PPAB is here to help you be successful! THERE ARE A NUMBER OF TOOLS AT YOUR DISPOSAL:

s The Examination Study Guide: s The Case Study Template: s The Video Review Form: s The Facebook Applicant Support Group - To join, email: s ABA Dictionary:


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SUBMIT A CASE STUDY OR MEMBER PROFILE FOR BARKS FROM THE GUILD! If you’d like to share your experiences and be featured in BARKS, here are our easy-to-fill-out templates... Member Profiles: /4K20TaXhYd84DN03pf5s Case Studies: /CaseStudyTemplate All you have to do is fill them in, send them to us and we’ll do the rest!