BARKS from the Guild November 2017

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© Can Stock Photo Inc./Anobis

BARKS from the Guild

Issue No. 27 / November 2017

AVIAN The Power of Off-Contact Training

EQUINE Enrichment for Individuals

BUSINESS The Challenges of Competition

BEHAVIOR Consent Testing a Flying Squirrel TRAINING Games for Dogs on Crate Rest CONSULTING Managing Burnout

TRAINING A Veteran’s Journey to Force-Free

Training Cats:

CANINE A Dog’s Ideal Day

The Role of the Clicker in Teaching Desirable Behaviors, Resolving Behavior Problems, Improving Communication and Building Bonds PLUS SPECIAL ADVOCACY ANNOUNCEMENT:

A Force-Free Publication from the Pet Professional Guild


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, Paula Garber, Carole Husein, Debra Millikan, Susan Nilson, Claire Staines, Louise StapletonFrappell, 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.

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


From the Editor

everal years ago when we lived in Dubai, our rescued desert cat Jeffrey used to discretely roam the local neighborhood and, although we never consciously trained it, his recall would have been the envy of many a dog owner. When it was time for him to come home at night, we would go up to the roof of the house and call him, and almost immediately you would hear his very loud signature meow bellow somewhere from the depths, and a few minutes later he would appear, diligently trotting along garden walls until he arrived at our back wall. That was your cue to go downstairs and meet him, because he would not jump down from the wall (which was about 8 feet high) unless you stood right underneath it in his preferred spot, so he could jump down onto your shoulders. From there he would jump to the ground and run into the house where he would expect to be fed immediately, and then take himself off upstairs to bed.You might wonder who actually trained who here, but it just goes to show that, contrary to popular belief, cats are highly trainable if you just take the time and effort, and understand what your cat finds the most reinforcing. This is the focus of our cover story this month, which discusses how cats learn and, specifically, how cat owners can use clicker training to teach some “go-to” desirable behaviors, aid communication to strengthen the cat-human bond and build trust, and provide both mental and physical stimulation. In addition, the article also features a case study where a new dog with no prior experience of cats was successfully introduced to several resident felines. Cats can also be clicker trained to accept a variety of husbandry procedures, including going into a cat carrier, which can be a tricky one for many owners when the time comes for the dreaded vet visit. In addition, many feline behavior problems can be helped, even resolved using clicker training, and it can help a cat feel more secure in stressful situations too. In September, PPG launched the Shock-Free Coalition, an international advocacy project which aims to remove shock collars as permissible training tools for dogs once and for all from the supply chain. Have you signed the pledge yet? If not, you can find out how to do so and lend your support on pp. 11-13. This issue also features the somewhat innovative way PPG’s advocacy committee chairman managed to remove 42 choke chains from the supply chain in one fell swoop. As always, we have a wide range of articles on all things training and behavior this month, including training games for a dog on crate rest, a veteran’s journey to force-free training, poisoned cues, a dog’s ideal day, being your dog’s champion, and how to best structure a dog’s time in a day care or boarding facility. Elsewhere, our equine section focuses on enrichment for horses based on their individual preferences, and how simple it is to apply +R training techniques instead of the more “traditional” methods. Our avian section, meanwhile, features the poignant tale of Koko the umbrella cockatoo, who initially eschewed human contact but now regards tactile interaction as one of the most powerful reinforcers of all. We also venture into the realm of other species, with a charming article about a rescued baby flying squirrel who responded to consent testing. Almost last but no means least, we have a wealth of information in our business and consulting sections, including managing compassion fatigue, giving testimony, how to manage competition, and the differences between training and teaching. Finally, we wish everyone who will be in Orlando, Florida for PPG’s third annual summit this month an enjoyable and successful experience. We will be reporting on the event in full in our January issue for those who can’t attend, but if you will be there, do come and say “hi!” n

Susan Nilso

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NEWS PPG Summits, PPG Rescue Committee, PPGBI, Clinical Animal Behavior Conference, members’ message board, PPG Archive, PPG Radio, webinars, Project Trade SIGN THE PLEDGE! PPG launches Shock-Free Coalition to end use of electric shock as training tool for pets BREAKING THE CHAIN Daniel Antolec finds an innovative way to take 42 choke chains out of circulation in his local community CLICKER TRAINING FOR CATS Paula Garber and Francine Miller explain how to use clicker training to teach desirable behaviors and resolve behavior issues A WORLD OF FUN Angelica Steinker details a host of ideas and training games to use when a dog is injured or on crate rest A FUN WAY TO GET GOOD BEHAVIOR Eileen Gillan talks proofing, shaping, luring, and poisoning cues THE BEST I CAN BE David Shade details his journey, which started out using aversive methods, to becoming the force-free dog trainer he is today A DOGÊS IDEAL DAY Diane Garrod details key elements comprising a dog’s perfect day and provides ways of incorporating them into daily life BECOMING YOUR DOGÊS CHAMPION! Sharon Empson explains the importance of advocating for your dog and being his voice STRUCTURE FOR A SMOOTH STAY Lauri Bowen-Vaccare focuses on environment enrichment at boarding and day care facilities THE LONG WAY HOME Lara Joseph discusses the power of off-contact training, as demonstrated by the tale of Koko, the umbrella cockatoo THE RIGHT SOLUTION Kathie Gregory focuses on enrichment for equines, tailored to a horse’s individual preferences WHATÊS IN IT FOR THE HORSE? Max Easey explains how positive reinforcement techniques can be applied as easily to horses as they are to dogs A LANGUAGE FOR ALL SPECIES Beth Napolitano relates the tale of “talking” to a flying squirrel via the use of consent testing with husbandry THE NEED FOR SELF-CARE Sheelah Gullion discusses the importance of managing compassion fatigue and burnout in pet professionals CANINE PROFESSIONALS AND COURT TESTIMONY Daniel Antolec discusses the ways in which canine professionals may find themselves required to give testimony ASK THE EXPERTS:THE CHALLENGES OF COMPETITION Veronica Boutelle of dog*tec responds to business and marketing questions LEARNING THROUGH EXPERIENCE Niki Tudge explains why it is important for pet professionals to be aware of the differences between training and teaching PROFILE: KEEPING DOGS IN HOMES Featuring Jane Bowers of Dogs of Distinction Canine Training in Vancouver, British Columbia BOOK REVIEW: AN OUNCE OF EMPATHY Breanna Norris reviews ‘The Education of Will: A Mutual Memoir of a Woman and Her Dog’ by Patricia McConnell

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FFeaturing eaturin turing ngg rrenowned enowned sp e kers: eak speakers: Kath Kathyy SSdao, dao o, D Dr.r. Kat Gr Gregory, egorry, Janis Br Bradley, radley adleyy, Nik Nikii Tudge TTudge, ud dgee, M Michele ichele P Pouilot, ouilot, LLouise ouise Ginman, Barbara Hodel, Louise Newman, Alexis Davison and Laura Ryder.

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New PPG Committee for Animal Shelters and Rescue


PG now has its own Shelter and Rescue Division with Kelly Lee of Dog Kind Training,, in Davis, California as chairwoman, and several new committee members. Lee has been working in shelters for seven years total now (two as a volunteer) and is the rescue and behavior coordinator and manager for the Yolo County SPCA at Yolo County Animal Services, California. “I've done everything from policy and protocol development to training interns and volunteers, helping run the dog foster program, behavior modification for shelter and foster dogs, running off-site adoption events, cat and dog rescue and transfer programs, post-adoption support, rehoming help, and behavior troubleshooting for owners considering relinquishment,” Lee said. Earlier this year, PPG released new marketing collateral, /Rescue-Handouts (see picture, left), to help members working with rescue groups and shelters promote force-free training.To access the artwork, log in to the members area of the website and scroll down to "Rescue Handouts." Canine and feline resources are available. Meanwhile, BARKS will be reporting on the new committee’s initiatives in the near future. You can contact the Shelter and Rescue Division at email: RescueDivision

PPG Members Invited to Clinical Animal Behavior Conference


egistration is open for the 2017 Clinical Animal Behavior Conference, .html, at the Oquendo Center Las Vegas, Nevada on December 1 - 3, 2017. Hosted by the American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior and the Society of Veterinary Behavior Technicians, PPG members Dr. Fiia Jokela and Dr. Lynn Honeckman will be in attendance and hope to welcome other PPG members at the event. “This is such an important conference to both Dr. Honeckman and I because it is a uniter of the veterinary profession with the positive reinforcement community of professional trainers,” said Dr. Jokela. “Lynn and I value the input of trainers so deeply. We know the value of collaborative efforts between our professions. This is the meeting where trainers and veterinarians are brought together. We want this meeting to grow and we want trainers in attendance! We want all veterinarians to know that when looking for a trainer referral, they should be looking for PPG members.” Speakers at the event include Irith Bloom, Dr. Susan Friedman and Dr. Lore Haug. See the full speaker list, www 6

BARKS from the Guild/November 2017

PPG Gears Up for Orlando Summit


PG’s 2017 Summit is finally upon us, taking place at the Sheraton Lake Buena Vista Resort, www -Hotel, on November 16 - November 20, 2017. Remember, attendees, that PPG has negotiated competitive rates at the resort during the event, as well as three days before and after if you feel like taking a mini vacation. PPG is debuting the official summit app this year to ensure a more interactive, streamlined experience for all. Individual session descriptions are available on PPG’s website, /Presenter-Schedule. Dog*tec business coaches will also be on hand for a limited number of one-on-one in-person sit downs, pre-scheduled on a first come, first served basis. At the time of going to press there were still a couple of spots left, so it’s not too late to register, -Registration, if you want to attend for a day, a couple of days, or the whole event.

Event Page for Utah Workshop Attendees


aking place at Best Friends Animal Sanctuary in Kanab, Utah on April 22-26, 2018, PPG’s Training and Behavior Workshop 2018,, will feature four days of lectures and hands-on clinics across multiple species with industry experts Janis Bradley, Chirag Patel, Emily Larlham, Jacqueline Munera, Emily Cassell and Lara Joseph, supported by Best Friends experts Dr. Franklin McMillan, Sherry Woodard, and Glenn Pierce, plus a special presentation by Best Friends cofounder, Faith Maloney. The event also has its own Facebook group,, for attendees to discuss travel arrangements or exchange information. See ad on back page for more information.

PPG Message Board


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

Sydney Summit 2018 Open for Registration PPGBI Attends UK Events



PG’s inaugural Australian Summit, www.petprofessionalguild .com/Pet-Industry-Summit-Sydney-Australia-2018, is due to take place at the Bankstown Sports Club in Sydney, New South Wales, on July 27-29, 2018. Janis Bradley, communications and publications director of the National Canine Research Council, professional guide dog trainer Michele Pouliot, applied animal behaviorist Kathy Sdao, and PPG founder and president Niki Tudge will all present at the summit alongside Australia-based behavior and training specialists, Dr. Kat Gregory, Louise Ginman, Louise Newman, Alexis Davison, Laura Ryder and PPG Australia president Barbara Hodel, in what will be a mix of lectures and applied behavior analysis workshops.

PG British Isles (PPGBI) steering committee members have been busy flying the flag, with Carole Husein (pictured right, with fellow PPGBI member Carol Anderson, left) representing PPG, Dog A.I.D. and force-free training in general through an 'Ask the Trainer' stand at Dogs’ Day Out, an annual event hosted by Burns Pet Nutrition. The event took place at the Pembrey Country Park, in Carmarthenshire, Wales in September. “We were kept very busy even though we had to move into the Burns By Your Side reading dogs tent due to the terrible weather,” said Husein. “The Burns Pet Nutrition charity, Burns in the Community, does some amazing work.” Claire Staines (pictured below, right, with Kathy Sdao, left) meanwhile, attended The Weekend with Kathy Sdao (hosted by Kathy Sdao with guest speaker Jane Ardern) in Manchester, England, in September, and was joined by a group of PPGBI members. PPG had a stand at the event, with Staines reporting that she received a lot of “+R” at the event and was “utterly buzzing at the great wealth of information.”

PG’s online archive,, continues to grow on a daily basis. Some of the latest additions include: Animal emotions stare us in the face — are our pets happy? by Mirjam Guesgen: Research Project Final Report on the impact of use of remote static pulse electric training aids (ecollars) during the training of dogs in comparison to dogs referred for similar behavioural problems but without ecollar training by DEFRA UK: How to prevent resource guarding and “sudden biting” in parrots by Stephanie Edlund: Animals are conscious and should be treated as such by Marc Bekoff: Escaped pet birds are teaching wild birds to speak English by Stephen Messenger: What type of dog is that? Can you tell just by looking? by National Canine Research Council: Is your dog empathic? Developing a Dog Emotional Reactivity Survey by Flóra Szánthó, Ádám Miklósi, & Enikő Kubinyi: The interrelated effect of sleep and learning in dogs (Canis familiaris); an EEG and behavioural study by Anna Kis, Sara Szakadat, Márta Gácsi, József Topál: Dogs And Pigs Get Bored,Too by Barbara J. King:


New Studies on the PPG Archive


BARKS from the Guild/November 2017



Project Trade Names July, August Ambassadors


ongratulations to Marnie Johnson of Canine Fine LLC,, in Colorado, USA who exchanged one prong collar and is Project Trade ambassador for the month of July, and to runner-up Daniel Antolec of Happy Buddha Dog Training,, in Wisconsin, USA who exchanged one choke collar. Congratulations too to Heather Luedecke of Delighted Dog Training Academy,, in Columbus, Ohio, USA who traded two choke collars, one prong collar and one shock collar and is Project Trade's ambassador for August, 2017. Kudos also go to Antolec once again for trading one prong collar, and also to Breanna Norris of Canine Insights, www, in Maine, USA, who collected two choke collars, and to Casey McGee of Upward Hound,, in Wisconsin, USA who exchanged one choke collar, one prong collar, and one shock collar.

Marnie Johnson was Project Trade’s July ambassador for this exchange

Daniel Antolec traded this choke collar for service discounts

Project Trade is an opt-in program for PPG members that has been designed to create incentives for pet owners to seek professionals who will exchange aversive training and pet care equipment for alternative, more appropriate tools, training, and educational support. See Casey McGee got creative with her Project Trade swaps

Heather Luedecke was Project Trade’s ambassador for August with this haul

Breanna Norris swapped these two choke collars under Project Trade

Daniel Antolec made this trade in August


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

BARKS from the Guild/November 2017



PPG World Service Radio Show Schedule


he PPG Radio Show,, takes place on the first Sunday of every month at noon (ET) 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 schedule (note: schedule is correct at time of going to press but is subject to change):

Sunday, November 5, 2017 - Noon (EST) Guest: Helen Phillips Topic: “Going for a Bumble” and teaching gundogs using positive reinforcement. Register to listen live:

Previous Podcasts Pat Miller – Canine cognition and ethical dilemmas from August 6, 2017:

Tuesday, December 12, 2017 - 2 p.m. (EDT) Guest: Drayton Michaels Topic: Let’s Opinionate! The lack of focus on human mechanics and the over reliance on “dog body language.” Register to listen live:

Emily Larlham - Trick dogging from September 3, 2017:

Dr. Ilana Reisner - Dog bites and children: A behavioral perspective from August 16, 2017:

Special #ShockFreeCoalition Podcasts Daniel Antolec, Breanna Norris, Erika Gonzalez, Heather Luedecke, and Anastasia Tsoulia - Project Trade, a strategic way to apply a discounted service policy in exchange for aversive training equipment from September 26, 2017:

Drayton Michaels and Niki Tudge - An uncensored chat about training with shock! from September 28, 2017:

Dr. Marc Bekoff - Do pet parents understand when their dog is feeling stressed and when their dog is feeling happy? from October 1, 2017: www./

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


Live Events

Concepts in Cognition with Yvette Van Veen Sunday, November 5, 2017 - 5 p.m. (EST)

PPG Summit 2017 (Orlando, Florida) Thursday, November 16, 2017 - Noon (EST) Monday, November 20, 2017 - 1:30 p.m. (EST)

Restricted Activity for Dogs with Siân Ryan Thursday, November 9, 2017 - 2 p.m. (EST) Canine Fitness: Foundations for Success with Lori Stevens Tuesday, December 12, 2017 - 2 p.m. (EST) Improve Your Critical Thinking Skills with Niki Tudge Thursday, March 15, 2018 - Noon (EDT) • Details of all upcoming webinars: Note: A recording is made available within 48 hours of all PPG webinars and sent out to registrants.

• Details of this month’s discounted webinars:

Residential Workshop S.A.N.E. Solutions for Shy and Fearful Dogs® with Kathy Cascade Saturday, January 27, 2018 - 9 a.m. (EST) Sunday, January 28, 2018 - 4 p.m. (EST)

• Details of all upcoming workshops: 10

BARKS from the Guild/November 2017

PPG Training and Behavior Analysis Workshop 2018 (Kanab, Utah) Sunday, April 22, 2018 - Noon (MDT) Wednesday, April 26, 2018 - 5 p.m. (MDT) PPG Australia Summit 2018 (Sydney, New South Wales) Friday, July 27, 2018 - Time TBC Sunday, July 29, 2018 - Time TBC

• Details of all upcoming summits: • All dates and times are correct at time of going to press but are subject to change.

There’s Nothing Shocking About Why Shock Devices Can Be Harmful to Pets

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

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

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

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

Learn More At:


Pet Professional Guild Launches Shock-Free Coalition to End Use of Electric Shock as Training Tool for Pets

PPG’s initiative calls for the worldwide elimination of shock devices in animal training, care, management, and behavior modification and seeks consumer transparency


for pet owners seeking professional advice

n September 25, 2017, PPG launched the Shock-Free Coalition, a global advocacy campaign which aims to end the practice of using electric shock to train, manage, and care for pets, build a strong and broad movement committed to eliminating shock devices from the supply chain, and create transparency in the methods used for consumers seeking professional advice on pet behavior or training issues. Developed through PPG’s Advocacy Committee, the Shock-Free Coalition launched with a week-long campaign featuring a wide-ranging series of educational and promotional activities, including an Ask the Expert Facebook chat with well-known dog trainer and author, Jean Donaldson, and three special “Shock-Free” editions of the PPG World Service live podcast ( -To-Share). Guests included best-selling author and ethologist, Dr. Marc Bekoff, Red Bank, New Jersey-based trainer, Drayton Michaels, who participated in an Uncensored Chat about Training and Shock with PPG president, Niki Tudge, and several Project Trade ( ambassadors who actively participate in PPG’s international advocacy program where pet owners swap aversive equipment for discounts on scientifically sound, force-free training services. Finally, at the end of the first week, to celebrate a successful launch and to further promote the Coalition’s drive to create greater awareness of the pitfalls of using pain and fear in pet training and behavior modification, PPG hosted a live competition on its Facebook page, /PetProfessionalGuild, where 10 free tickets to its annual educational summit were up for grabs. All enthusiastic participants had to do was be the first to correctly answer an event-based question – amidst stiff competition. The eventual winners of a summit ticket plus hotel accommodation were Jennifer Blackman, Jacqueline Drake, Marie Macher, Judy Luther and Kate Godfrey, while Jenn Stanley, Ursa Major, Mandy Burger, Elise McKenna Jones and Natalie Bridger Watson all won summit attendee tickets. Congratulations to all! “We are thrilled to be able to offer free tickets to 10 lucky people and give them the incredible opportunity to attend our annual summit and learn more about animal behavior and up-to-date training methods by scientists and experts who are at the forefront of their field,” said PPG founder and president, Niki Tudge. “We are also delighted with the response to the rollout of the Shock-Free Coalition and its educational message. It is important pet owners are not fooled by the many deceptive marketing terms used for shock collars, which include ‘vibrating,’ ‘e-touch,’ ‘stimulation,’ ‘tingle,’ and ‘static.’ The fact is that the primary reason these devices are effective in stopping behavior is because they are painful, and it is time for pet 12

BARKS from the Guild/November 2017

professionals to stop inflicting pain and evoking fear under the guise of training, and take shock off the table once and for all. Rather, by focusing on education and advocacy to ensure a better-informed pet owner who seeks out humane alternatives, consumer demand will automatically be reduced, and real progress can be made in reaching the end goal.” Many supporters have already signed the Shock-Free Pledge,, hosted on the Coalition’s website,, which also features a signature drive, and a variety of educational tools and resources to help pet professionals promote the movement and encourage participation across their communities. The Shock-Free Coalition was promoted across social media using the hashtag #ShockFreeCoalition throughout campaign week and beyond, while the website is a clearinghouse of position statements, scientific studies, articles, videos and research on the dangers of electric shock. The site also provides guidance on humane training practices and how to find educated pet care professionals who use scientificallyinformed, humane, force-free practices. Part of the Shock-Free Coalition’s remit is to educate pet owners and shelter/rescue workers to help them provide the pets under their charge the best care and training, and to help owners find competent, professional industry service providers they can trust to use only humane practices. Global leaders in the animal welfare, veterinary, behavior and training worlds – such as celebrity dog trainer,Victoria Stillwell, the aforementioned Dr. Bekoff, and renowned author, veterinarian and certified applied veterinary behaviorist, Dr. Karen Overall – have all lent their voices to the Shock-Free Coalition, which comes at a time when animal behavior and emotions, based on the growing body of research, are understood better than ever before. Numerous studies, conducted by veterinary scientists and canine behavior specialists worldwide, indicate that the use of pain and fear to train animals risks causing physical injury, as well as a host of psychological issues that may include a pet becoming fearful of other animals and people – and potentially aggressive towards them as a result. Although electric shock in animal training is currently banned in some countries, it is still legal in many others, including the United States. While it is not unusual and, in many cases, is mandated, that providers and manufacturers of potentially dangerous services and products provide warnings so that information regarding any risk from use, including potentially injurious side effects, are transparent for end users, professional dog trainers and behavior consultants currently have no legal responsibility whatsoever to disclose their methods. This can be and, indeed, is very misleading to unsuspecting pet



About the Shock-Free Coalition

he key purpose of the Shock-Free Coalition is to build a strong and broad movement committed to eliminating shock devices from the supply and demand chain. This goal will be reached when shock tools and equipment are universally unavailable and not permitted for the training, management and care of pets. The Shock-Free Coalition believes that pets have an intrinsic right to be treated humanely, to have each of their individual needs met, and to live in a safe, enriched environment free from force, pain and fear. The initiative has been developed purposely to bring together parties that have mutual business interests and a personal investment in the welfare of pets and embraces stakeholders of similar values and interests, enabling all parties to combine their resources and become more successful in achieving the stated goals. Members of the Shock-Free Coalition consider it to be their responsibility and utmost obligation to be vigilant, to educate, to remain engaged and work toward eliminating shock as a permissible tool so it is never considered a viable option in the training, management and care of pets.

owners who have no knowledge of the pet industry’s lack of standards and regulation, or the differences between training methods and equipment. In many cases, pet owners only find out about these differences – and the fallout associated with them – when they find themselves encountering behavior problems caused by the use of aversive techniques and equipment. “As the pet training industry is entirely unregulated at present, anyone can say they are an animal trainer or behavior consultant,” said Tudge. “As a result, those who call themselves dog trainers, or perhaps ‘dog whisperers,’ may still be utilizing outdated punitive methods, such as disc throwing, loud correctional ‘no’s’ and, in some cases, more extreme tools such as electric shock collars, choke chains and prong collars. All of these are, sadly, still at large. They are training tools that, by design, have one purpose: to reduce or stop behavior through pain and fear. “What is especially sad is that many people do not realize that they are hurting and scaring their pets by using such devices. Unfortunately, they often find out the hard way when their pet becomes shut down from fear or aggressive towards people and/or other animals as fallout from the electric shock. Fear is incredibly easy to instill in any animal, and exceptionally difficult to get rid of. These pet owners usually end up facing a long road of hard work that can require a tremendous amount of patience, time and money to help their pet overcome this newly – and unnecessarily – created fear. Indeed, in all too many cases, a pet may end up being abandoned in a shelter, inaccurately labeled as “aggressive,” or euthanized. The key purpose of the Shock-Free Coalition is to prevent this from occurring, and to build an international movement dedicated to the elimination of shock devices from the supply and demand chain once and for all, a goal which will be reached when such tools are completely unavailable and no longer permitted in pet care, training, and management.” n

Key PPG Position Statements

The Use of Shock in Animal Training: The Use of Remote Electric Shock: -Shock The Use of Pet Correction Devices: -Management-Training-and-Care-of-Pets BARKS from the Guild/November 2017



Breaking the Chain

Daniel Antolec finds an innovative way to take 42 choke chains out of circulation in his local community


Author Daniel Antolec bought 42 choke chains from a local store on the understanding that the manager would no longer stock them

s an advocate for humane training, I am always searching for ways to promote PPG and force-free methods. My goal is to take aversive gear out of the marketplace, one way or another. I offer in-home training and behavior services so I travel far and wide. My service area covers a county with 500,000 inhabitants, half of whom live in the greater-Madison area of Wisconsin. Several of the giant pet product chain stores saturate that market and they all carry shock, prong and choke collars. I do not expect to influence chain store managers, but I do see opportunities in the smaller outlying communities with locally owned pet supply stores. Many folks, like myself, prefer to support local businesses. Living and working around small towns allows me to develop relationships I cannot have with chain store managers. If we learn anything working with dogs, we know that building mutually beneficial relationships enables us to influence the behavior of others. I want to break the chain of aversive gear from the manufacturer, to the retailer, to the pet owner in a force-free way. Recently, the Oregon Farm Center near my home invited me to make a presentation to their customers. I had been secretly working up my courage to ask them to host me and already had done seven presentations in the previous two weeks. I would open the presentation with a fun examination of human and canine sensory systems, leading to education on reading canine communication, and a segment on dog safety and bite prevention. Finally, I would discuss traditional and modern training methods and equipment to edge pet owners away from aversive gear. Afterwards, I hoped to approach the owner of the business to persuade him to stop selling choke collars. My presentation 14

BARKS from the Guild/November 2017

Antolec’s dogs Gandhi (left) and Buddha enjoy an innovative enrichment game

would be an entertaining success. Lots of happy dog owners would go home with prizes and force-free handouts and my appeal to the business owner would be irresistible! The only glitch in my plan was…nobody showed up. My presentation corresponded with the University of Wisconsin-Madison college graduation ceremony, a village-wide garage sale in Oregon, and the popular stock car racetrack just out of town was hosting their first flea market. Even Mother Nature had it in for me, as it was the first dry weekend all month and people everywhere were scrambling to mow their lawns. I hung around like a trooper and had an in-depth conversation with the staff. We agreed to reschedule the event at a better time. I offered them helpful tips and advice for their dogs and then I raised the subject of choke collars. There were no shock or prong collars on the shelves, but 42 choke chains hung threateningly from a display, like a scene in a medieval dungeon. Well okay, it was not that creepy, but as I looked at each chain I saw the threat it represented to some poor dog who may be forced to wear it one day. Like Caesar at the bank of the Rubicon, I cast my die into the water and made an offer I hoped the business owner could not refuse. “I’ve been doing business here for 24 years and have always been impressed with the helpful and friendly staff, and the wide variety of products that help keep my horse, sheep and dogs healthy. In fact, I refer all of my dog training clients to the farm center.” Seeing a smiling nod of appreciation, I continued. “The one thing that concerns me is I see so many choke collars on display, and due to my studies I know the harm they can do. Of course people don’t want to harm their dogs and probably just want them to stop pulling on leash. I think I can help you…”

And so I offered printed materials about choke collar pathology, loose leash walking and proposed safe body harnesses, such as Perfect Fit and Balance harnesses. I understood the business owner had already spent money purchasing the choke collars and it seemed fair that he should not suffer a loss by dumping product at my request. For the grand finale, I offered to buy all of the choke collars at his cost, provided they would no longer be stocked. Furthermore, I assured him that I would neither use, sell nor distribute the equipment. To gain credibility I explained my participation in PPG’s aversive gear swap program Project Trade, and that I was willing to spend my money to take the choke collars out of circulation. Two days later I received a phone call accepting my offer. He said, “I never knew these hurt dogs and only carried them because people started asking for them.” I empathized with him, remembering when I briefly used a choke collar on one of my dogs, following poor advice from a trainer. I offered to do free leash walking workshops at the farm center to help his customers through their force-free transition. My journey along the force-free path sometimes leads me in directions I do not expect. I thought I would be educating individual pet owners so they would choose not to use choke collars, and found myself breaking the chain, thanks to the goodwill of a business which is truly part of the community. Though not qualifying for a true Project Trade swap, my new prizes joined the other aversive gear in my collection and I am happy that no dog will have to feel the cold steel of those chains around his neck. As a bonus, I finally found a good use for choke collars. I sprinkled bits of meat on the floor and covered them with 42 chains, which my Labradors pawed through to find their treats. It turns out, choke collars can be turned into an enrichment game! n


The shelves were empty of choke chains after Antolec had explained their pathology to the store’s manager

Resources Balance Harness: /balance-harness Perfect Fit Harness: /perfect-fit-fleece-dog-harness.html Project Trade: /Project-Trade BARKS from the Guild/November 2017



Clicker Training for Cats Paula Garber and Francine Miller

discuss how cats

learn and explain

how to use clicker training to teach some “go-to”

desirable behaviors,

as well as resolve

behavior issues,

improve mutual

communication and build the

© Can Stock Photo Inc./flibustier

cat-owner bond


Just as with dogs, or any other animal, clicker training a cat is an ideal way to provide both physical and mental stimulation

BARKS from the Guild/November 2017

Clicker Training

Professional dog trainers already know all about clicker training and many use the method regularly in their training sessions. What is less common is the concept of clicker training – or indeed any form of training – for cats, but in fact, clicker training is a fun and unique way for cats and humans to communicate with each other, and better communication can strengthen the cathuman bond and build trust. It can also provide enrichment for cats in the form of mental and physical stimulation. Cats can be clicker trained to accept husbandry procedures like taking medication, being groomed and having their claws trimmed, and going into a cat carrier.You can also use clicker training to teach a cat to walk on a harness and leash and to do a variety of cute tricks, too. In addition, many feline behavior problems can be resolved using clicker training, and training can help a cat feel safe and secure in stressful situations as well.

How Cats Learn

By understanding how cats learn and how we can influence what they learn, we can create events to be perceived more positively than they may otherwise be perceived (such as going into a cat carrier). Just like with dogs, learning is happening all the time, regardless of whether you are intentionally trying to teach something. Learning can take place with one repetition or many. Experiences can either help reinforce what has previously been learned or teach something entirely different. Most importantly, as an animal is learning he is also developing negative or positive associations as to how things make him feel. Although cats have their own motivations and priorities, they learn exactly as dogs or any other animals do, through habituation, sensitization, classical and operant conditioning, as well as observational learning and environmental changes. The simplest type of learning is habituation, which is how all animals learn to ignore the parts of their environment that have no special consequence and are therefore irrelevant and can be ignored. This is particularly important for cats. If a cat is continually focused on the irrelevant, it would divert vital attention and energy away from events that may have an impact on survival, such as nearby prey or predators. Becoming habituated to what is harmless in their environment is extremely important for cats. The opposite of habituation is sensitization, i.e. repeated exposure to something that leads to an increased reaction from the animal, as opposed to a reduction in response (and the eventual ignoring that characterizes habituation). The repeated exposure may be to something the cat instinctively dislikes (such as going to the vet and getting an injection), which can lead to the cat becoming fearful of the vet or the hospital, even when no injection is planned. Once a cat has become sensitized to one situ-

ation, it may generalize to other, similar situations. Sensitization is a powerful protective mechanism that helps cats avoid anything they perceive as potentially dangerous. Just as with dogs, both habituation and sensitization change the strength of a cat’s reactions, but they do not help him develop new responses. For this, more complex learning processes are necessary. One is classical conditioning. Many cat owners experience this when they use a can opener to open the cat’s food and the cat comes running. After several repetitions and a consistent pairing of sound and food, learning has taken place, i.e. the cat has learned that the noise of the can opener predicts a meal. Classical conditioning helps a cat to make better sense of his environment. For a cat’s behavior to change, operant conditioning is needed. Operant conditioning is also happening all the time, although it involves the consequences to a behavior influencing what happens next. For a cat to learn that any outcome is associated with his behavior, it is usually essential that the consequence occur immediately (positive or negative). When working with cats we also use environmental changes to create behavior change. For example, if a cat is scratching a piece of furniture and we want to stop that, we would do something to the environment by adding a deterrent (such as placing Sticky Paws™ on the place being scratched) while also providing an appropriate cat scratcher nearby and reinforcing the use of that object. Finally, like many species, cats learn by observing other cats. Both kittens and adult cats have shown that they can learn to perform a task by simply watching an experienced cat complete the task.


In clicker training, primary reinforcers are things that are instinctively or inherently rewarding to a cat. Reinforcers for cats Food puzzles will reveal what food a cat will work for, and also teach cats that certain behaviors can have rewarding consequences

Photo: Susan Nilson


hy train a cat? Why indeed. Myths about the trainability of cats abound: “Cats can’t be trained because they’re too independent.” “Cats are difficult to train because they are not food motivated.” “Cats don’t need training like dogs do.” These are all common misconceptions, so get ready to kick all the myths to the curb and add some useful cat training tools and techniques to your repertoire.


BARKS from the Guild/November 2017



should be given in small Cats learn best when they are comfortable and free amounts and frequently from distractions. to maintain learning momentum. For cats who are food motivated, use high-value food or treats for clicker training. Many cats like foods with a high animal protein content, like cooked or freeze-dried meat or fish. Other foods to try include canned tuna, deli meat, meatbased baby food (make sure it doesn’t contain onions), and Kong liver paste. If a cat loves his regular food, you can use © Can Stock Photo/Thilien that as a reinforcer. One way to discover high-value food reinforcers for a cat is by using food puzzles. These will reveal what food or treats a cat will work for, and they also teach cats that certain behaviors can have rewarding consequences. When using food as a reinforcer, it is best to feed the cat meals on a schedule instead of free feeding. Cats need to be fed multiple small meals throughout the day—feeding five small meals is ideal, but three meals should be the absolute minimum. Plan training sessions around the cat’s regular meal times when you know he is hungry. If the cat likes his food well enough to work for it, you can feed part of his regular meal during training. If using other food reinforcers, reduce the amount of food in the cat’s regular diet to prevent overfeeding. Cats eat more slowly than dogs, which means food reinforcers should be small so they can be eaten quickly. The size of a small pea or about half the size of the nail on your pinky finger is a good guideline to follow. Also keep in mind that cats can eat soft foods faster than hard foods, so if you are using kibble or a hard treat, break each piece into smaller pieces for training. Some cats will not take food directly from your fingers, so try using a spoon, a tongue depressor, or a syringe for canned food, baby food, or other treats with a pasty texture.You can also deliver treats on a small plate on the floor in front of the cat. Another type of reinforcement many cats enjoy is play. Because play mimics hunting behavior, opportunities to play can be especially rewarding for predators like cats. Reinforce with short bursts of energetic play. Wand-type toys work well for this purpose because they can be moved around quickly to closely resemble the enticing movements made by prey, and they provide distance between your hands and the cat’s teeth and claws, reducing your risk of being scratched or bitten. Using some toys only for training purposes will increase their novelty, and thus the cat’s motivation, during training. For cats who are closely bonded with the person training them, affection in the form of petting, scratching, or massaging can be reinforcing. Most cats prefer brief bouts of touching on 18

BARKS from the Guild/November 2017

areas of their body where scent glands are located—the cheeks, the top of the head, and the chin. Brushing may be used as a reinforcer for cats who enjoy being groomed. Some cats like gentle strokes of the brush on their face or rubbing their face on the brush as it is held still. A couple of strokes with a brush down a cat’s back may also be used, if the cat enjoys it. If a cat is easily overstimulated by physical touch or grooming, choose other reinforcers to keep training

sessions focused. It may take some time and experimentation to discover the most effective reinforcers for an individual cat. Once you find several that work, it can be helpful to keep a list of them in order of highest value to lowest value. Then, with each training session, use the reinforcer that is most effective depending on how hungry and engaged the cat is. This helps prevent habituation and increase motivation. And be sure to use some reinforcers only during training sessions to increase their value. Social contact, simply being in your presence, making eye contact, or having your attention, can be reinforcing for some cats. You can help these cats be more engaged during training by withholding social contact for a short period before the sessions. The secondary reinforcer is the sound of the clicker or another unique sound. Not all clickers are created equal! Some clickers are louder than others, and some cats are afraid of the sound. Try wrapping the clicker in a sock to muffle the sound, or use a different sound. Some alternative sounds include the button on the lid from a jar of baby food, a ballpoint pen (just make sure you only use ballpoint pens for training to avoid confusing the cat), a mini-stapler, and a dog whistle.You can also use a verbal sound like “yes!” Another option, of course, is to desensitize the cat to the sound of the clicker. If you are training more than one cat at the same time, use the same secondary reinforcer—there is no need to have a separate one for each cat. Simply focus your attention and the clicks toward the cat you are working with. The cats will quickly figure out how the game works.

Training Considerations

Cats learn best when they are comfortable and free from distractions. They are sensitive and will flee from any threat or uncertainty (and we don’t work with them on a leash!) The best place to teach a cat is somewhere he finds quiet and familiar. This may be challenging because, with their acute senses of smell and hearing, they may be distracted by things we are unaware of.

You should train in a place with a litter box available, fresh water and a place to retreat to or rest. Cats do not usually learn well immediately after they have eaten, so just like dogs, they will be more motivated by food reinforcers if they are hungry. The way you train should be tailored to your individual cat. This means identifying the best reward(s), the optimal length of a training session, how fast your cat learns and the best training aids to use. It can be helpful to establish cues to communicate to the cat when a formal training session begins and ends.Verbal cues such as “let’s train!” and “all done!” typically work well. Your cat’s personality and readiness to learn must also be considered. How bold or timid is he? Bold cats are more inclined to get involved in situations they have not encountered before, while timid cats hang back, finding unfamiliar objects daunting and potentially threatening. A cat’s readiness to learn is affected by his mood at the time. For example, some cats are generally diffi-



cult to motivate and may seem bored while training. Or a cat may be overexcited by training and too focused on the reward rather than the behavior to obtain it. Finally, it is important to take previous negative experiences into account, especially if you are going to work on changing the cat’s emotional state to a positive one. Training of this sort will take longer and require a slower pace than if no prior negative association had been made. It is also important to note that cats often learn fastest when they are younger and a bit more slowly once they are older. Cats over the age of 12 years may need more time spent on each element of training, but they can definitely still learn new tricks. Training sessions should last only a few minutes three or four times a day, as cats seem to work best in short spurts. These should be well separated to allow the kitten or cat to sleep in between. Ideally you want to end each session while the cat is

Case Study: Introducing a New Dog to Resident Cats

used clicker training to help introduce my newly adopted dog, Ness, to the four cats in my household. Ness was under-socialized and had no experience with cats prior to adoption. The cats had only occasional exposure to visiting dogs during family holidays. During those visits, I provided my cats with a safe retreat and positive distractions such as Kongs filled with salmon paste. At the start of the introductions, Ness was tethered to me at all times on a loose leash while I was home. Since Ness was near me all the time, it was easy to reinforce desirable behaviors and prevent negative interactions with the cats. When I was absent, Ness was crated. The cats were introduced to Ness using classical counterconditioning and desensitization in short sessions. Ness was on a harness and loose leash and one cat was introduced at a time. I started the animals at a distance where neither showed any signs of fear, anxiety, or stress. I placed them in separate rooms with a baby gate in-between for additional safety. My

husband stayed with whichever cat we were training and I was with Ness. Every time Ness looked at the cat, I clicked and reinforced him with a treat. Every time the cat looked at Ness, she also got a click and a treat. They also received a click and a treat when they turned their attention to their handler and remained calm and relaxed. The animals were gradually moved closer together as these sessions continued until they met face to face. At the start, the sessions lasted 3-5 minutes, and as the animals became more comfortable with each other, the sessions were longer and typically ended at 15-20 minutes. After doing this daily for 18 days, Ness and the cats were allowed supervised time together. Throughout this slow introduction process, I used clicker training to teach Ness and the cats “come,” “sit,” and “down” so that I could easily prevent a negative interaction and positively redirect. I continued to use the clicker to reinforce all of them for being calm around each other. Now, they get along famously. - Tabitha Kucera RVT Tabitha Kucera used a clicker to reinforce the resident cats to be calm around Ness, and vice-versa

Newly-adopted Ness the dog was undersocialized and had had no prior experience with cats

BARKS from the Guild/November 2017



still interested, but if the cat tires before you do and turns his back and starts washing his face, the cat is done and so are you!

any newly presented object and you can use a tongue depressor, a chopstick, your finger or a target stick. Just like training a dog, you can simply use the object, or if necessary rub some yummy food on it. In the video Teaching Nose Targeting to a Kitten, the host is using baby food for the kitten. Use the enticement to the target no more than twothree times to start and then remove it. As your cat gets the hang of touching his nose to the Photo: Susan Nilson target, you can begin to move it a bit so he has to move around to reach it, and so on, just like teaching a dog. Training a cat to go to a specific place tells him what to do in specific situations and can be used to resolve many behavior issues

Useful Behaviors to Train

Cats can be trained to perform several foundation behaviors that can be useful in a variety of situations. Here are some suggestions:

© Can Stock Photo/fotosmurf

Come When Called: Teaching your cat to come when called is an important safety measure. If he inadvertently escapes from your home, you will have a much better chance of retrieving him, rather than searching for hours only to find him crouched and Go to Place: Training a cat to go to a specific place gives him inhiding somewhere. This is something you should practice almost formation about what to do in specific situations and can be every day in different areas and circumstances. used to resolve many behavior issues, including counter surfing, Begin by sitting at his level on the floor just a short distance door dashing, aggression toward other animals, attention-seeking away (2-3 feet). Call his name and show him the reward. As long behaviors, and begging. The goal is to cue the cat to go to a safe as the treat is motivating enough, he should come to you to inplace and stay there instead of engaging in the undesirable behavvestigate. As soon as he reaches you, click and treat. If he does ior. In addition to the “go to place” cue, you will need a release not come to you, try luring him by moving closer and stretching cue to tell the cat when it is okay to leave the “place.” your arm out to present the food, then retract it closer to your The first step is to identify the problem behavior and where body. Click and treat when he reaches you. Once he is able to it tends to occur. Decide whether a stationary item, like a chair reliably do this multiple times, you can introduce a cue, such as or cat perch, would be an appropriate “come.” Say it just as he begins moving Clicker training can be used to direct toward you. Over several practice sespredatory behavior toward acceptable place for the cat to go or a more targets and give cats an appropriate portable option would be best, for insions of just a few minutes, you should outlet for their prey drive stance, a placemat or small bath mat, a find him coming to you whenever he cat bed, or even a cat carrier. Using a hears the cue word. portable place can be especially handy Now you can begin to increase the in some situations, since the item can distance between the two of you and be brought out wherever the cat hapmove to other parts of the house pens to be. If using a mat or other item where he can hear you, but not see on hard flooring, make sure it won’t you. Always reward your cat for coming slide when the cat steps on it. to you and provide him with the opporBegin by either shaping (click-treat tunity to leave your vicinity again.You any movement toward the mat, prowill be teaching him to check in and gressing to sniffing the mat, putting one that coming to you will not mean repaw on the mat, then all four paws, and straint or restriction. then staying on the mat) or using a lure or nose target. Sprinkle food on Targeting: Nose targeting is one of the the mat or use nose targeting to lead easiest behaviors to teach a cat, and it the cat to put all four paws on the mat is done exactly the same way you and then shape “stay.” If using a food would teach it to a dog or any other lure or nose target, fade them quickly. animal. The target can be used to direct Deliver reinforcers away from the mat the cat to jump up (or down) from to give the cat additional opportunities something and to do fun tricks. to perform the behavior. Train in an enCats use their noses to check out 20

BARKS from the Guild/November 2017

Training Calm: As prey animals, cats are hard-wired for fight or flight and are therefore easily aroused. Once aroused, added stimuli have a cumulative effect, and a cat can remain in an aroused state for 24 hours or more after the triggering event. If a person or another animal interrupts or catches an aroused cat’s attention, the cat may redirect aggression toward the person or animal, causing potential injury and possibly damage to relationships too. Training a cat to remain calm in situations that tend to cause arousal and excitement can prevent such unfortunate events from occurring, decrease overall anxiety and stress, and build confidence as the cat learns Cats are both predator what to do in a stressful situaand prey, and are hardwired for fight or flight; tion. Cueing a cat to be calm calm can help eventually becomes unnecessary training reduce levels of emotional arousal because the behavior is self-reinforcing. How do you know when a cat is calm? Body language signals include relaxed facial muscles (ears are turned forward and angled slightly to the side, eyelids are partially closed or blinking, and whiskers are relaxed and pointing out to the side, not pushed forward or pulled back). The pupils are normal size (not dilated or constricted), the cat’s body looks loose and relaxed, and he may be lying down in such a way that his paws (two or all four) are not in contact with the floor. The tail is still but not tightly wrapped around the cat’s body, Clicker training can be or it may be moving in a slow, instrumental in directing lolling motion (not twitching or cats away from furniture and onto scratch posts lashing). Start by training “go to place” until it is well established. To train calm, you will need a reinforcer that stimulates the cat to become excited and move around, such as play with a wand toy. The stimulating activity should be vigorous but should not push the cat into overarousal. Training involves repeatedly reinforcing the cat with the stimulating activity after she goes to place and is calm. Establish a verbal release signal such as “let’s go!” before

delivering the reinforcer. When the cat’s excitement level is high, remove the reinforcer (hide it behind your back or somewhere else out of sight) and wait for the cat to go to place on his own and be calm. If he looks to you for guidance, use your “go to place” cue and then watch his body language for calming signals before releasing him and delivering the reinforcer again. Begin training in an environment free of distractions—the reinforcer should be the only thing causing excitement and stimulation. Work on increasing distance, distraction, and duration after the cat is going to his place and being calm on his own.

Clicker Training for Behavior Problems

Clawing Furniture/Destructive Furniture Scratching Destructive furniture scratching is a commonly reported problem in cats, and one of the many unwanted behaviors that clicker training can help. Without going into all the reasons cats scratch (for more details on scratching, see Scratch Here, Not There, BARKS from the Guild, July 2016, pp. 2526), it is suffice to say that cats have to scratch. It is a natural behavior that serves many purposes. Having said that, cats can certainly be taught to stay away from human furniture and focus on cat furniture. Stopping a cat from destroying furniture starts with making the area unavailable to sharp claws. Cover the area with something the cat does not want to scratch, such as Sticky Paws™ double-sided tape. Sheets and plastic shower curtain liners can also deter a cat from scratching. At the same time you are making these areas unappealing, you also provide a more appropriate scratching surface such as a tall scratching post in front of or Photo: Susan Nilson next to the blocked area. When your cat is scratching the post, reinforce him with a click and a treat. In this case, the treat might be catnip or silver vine on the post itself, or dragging a feather toy across the post to engage your cat in play. Every time you see him scratching the right surface, click and reinforce. When the cat is scratching the cat furniture habitually, you can gradually decrease the use of the clicker and shift from treats to verbal praise. © Can Stock Photo/hkt83000

vironment with minimal distractions and kneel on the floor with the cat to start, and then increase distance, distraction, and duration.


BARKS from the Guild/November 2017



© Can Stock Photo/schankz

Stalking, Biting and Scratching The sequence of predation starts with locating the prey, capturing (stalking, chasing, pouncing), killing and eating it. Some of these actions are hardwired into every cat, so it is unlikely that training could ever switch off these behaviors completely. Indoor cats do not have the opportunity to hunt as they would if they were surviving in the wild. Having an appropriate outlet for their prey drive is critical for their well-being. The goal is to reduce or discourage hunting on live prey (including human hands and feet) by providing the cat with games that are as rewarding, cognitively engaging, time consuming and as tiring as real hunting. Predation of your hands and feet is unlikely to occur if the cat has ample opportunity for appropriate hunting games. Put your cat’s play times on a daily schedule. This way, he learns that the hunting games happen reliably at specific times, and he will look forward to these sessions instead of making his own hunting games with your hands and feet when the mood strikes. Follow the sessions with food or Cats eat more slowly than treats to dogs, so food reinforcers should be small to ensure complete the they can be eaten quickly; hunting seas with dogs, high-value food or treats should be quence. used for clicker training Clicker training can be used to direct predatory behavior toward acceptable targets, i.e. toys that provide hunting opportunities while creating a game that is rewarding for both the cat and the owner. Use nose targeting to direct your


BARKS from the Guild/November 2017

© Can Stock Photo/mr_Brightside

Clicker training can be used to reduce tension between cats, and training the cats to respond to their names can head off potential conflicts

© Can Stock Photo/DragoNika

When introducing cats to each other, clicker training helps boost positive associations between them

cat’s attention away from your hands and feet, and toward appropriate toys.You can also clicker train him to sit on cue, so when he approaches you in a playful mood, you can cue him to sit while you grab his favorite wand toy. If your cat likes to grab your feet as you go up or down the stairs, or hide under things and ambush your ankles or legs as you walk by, be prepared by carrying enticing toys (small mice, ping pong balls, etc.) that you can toss away from you to redirect his attention from his sneak attack.You can also keep small containers of these toys in the ambush zones.

Introducing Cats

In a nutshell, cats should be gradually introduced to each other one sense at a time: first by scent, then by sight, and then physically. Throughout the process, positive associations are built up with the scent, sight, and physical presence of the other cat using food, play, brushing, low-key play—anything the cats enjoy. When introducing cats, you can use clicker training to help boost positive associations between them and keep them focused on you instead of each other. During scent introductions, click-treat each cat for calmly investigating items with the other cat’s scent on them.You could also have the cats nose target the items. Click-treat for all positive interactions with the “scented” items, including playing with, sitting on, or sleeping on them. The visual and physical introduction processes are similar in many ways. The visual introduction involves using a physical barrier, such as a baby gate, and a visual barrier like a blanket or large piece of cardboard that is lifted for brief periods. During the physical introduction, the physical barrier is removed for brief periods. Visual and physical introductions can be tricky because cats communicate using body language, and something as benign-appearing as the cats looking at each other can actually be a sign of impending aggression. Clicker training both cats to play the “Look Game” can prevent this, and it is super easy to do. Simply click/treat the moment one of the cats looks at the other cat. This allows the cats to briefly “check on each other” while ultimately looking to you for reinforcement. If one of the cats stares at the other cat without orienting to you, he is over threshold

and you need to make adjustments to help him feel more comfortable, such as moving the cats farther apart. Also click/treat the cats any time they are calm and relaxed in each other’s presence (see previous section Training Calm for a list of calming signals in cats).

Inter-Cat Aggression

Living with cats who do not get along is stressful for everyone. Sometimes the cats need to be completely separated and then formally reintroduced. In many cases, the best outcome we can hope for is for the cats to coexist peacefully to a point where they tolerate each other, even if they do not actively “like” each other. To facilitate peaceful coexistence, the environment must be arranged so that the cats can easily avoid each other and do not have to compete for resources. Setting up multiple, separate “territories” in the home with plenty of perching and resting areas,


American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. (2009-2014). Aggression in Cats. Retrieved September 8, 2017, from Bradshaw, J., & Ellis, S. (2016). The Trainable Cat, A Practical Guide to Making Life Happier for You and Your Cat. New York, NY: Basic Books ClickCrewHSP. (2012). Jacqueline Munera’s clicker training videos. Retrieved September 8, 2017, from Fisher, P. (2016, July). Scratch Here, Not There. BARKS from the Guild (19) 25-26. Retrieved September 8, 2017, from Fundamentally Feline Training Videos: Karen Pryor Clicker Training: Krieger, M. (2011), Click Your Cat to Better Behavior. Retrieved September 8, 2017, from /3273 Krieger, M. (2010). Naughty No More: Change Unwanted Behaviors through Positive Reinforcement. Irvine, CA: Lumina Media, LLC McDevitt, L. (2007). Control Unleashed: Creating a Focused and Confident Dog. South Hadley, MA: Clean Run Productions, LLC Mipawsitivestart. (2012, March 16). Teaching a Kitten to Hit an Easy Button [Video File]. Retrieved September 8, 2017, from Pryor, K. (2001). Getting Started, Clicker Training for Cats. Waltham, MA: Karen Pryor Clicker Training Yin, S. (2015, April 2). Teaching Nose Targeting to a Kitten [Video File]. Retrieved September 8, 2017, from /watch?v=-CcoYlCNByM


litter boxes, and food and water areas is key, as well as ensuring that there are no “dead ends” where a cat could be cornered by another cat. Clicker training can be used to reduce tension between cats, and training the cats to respond to their names can head off potential conflicts. Once you have a cat’s attention, you can redirect him using a toy or a tossed treat away from the other cat. Training “come when called” also is useful for calling a cat away from a potential confrontation with another cat. Training “go to place” and “calm” can help cats who feel stressed or aroused in the presence of another cat know what to do instead of reacting or acting on impulse. Make sure the cats have easy access to multiple places they can retreat to throughout the home, and train “go to place” and “calm” in each place when the other cat is present, passing by, and moving around. Of course, rewarding desired behaviors is an important part of helping cats get along. The easiest behavior to click is ignoring the other cat—be sure to click the cat when she is calm and relaxed.You can also click the cats for looking away from each other and for not hissing, swatting, growling, or chasing when an opportunity presents itself. While some cats take things in stride, many do not. At the end of the day, whether you use a clicker or not, training cats to handle everyday situations to help them adjust to living with humans is a good idea. It can be fun, rewarding and help your cat— or cats—lead a happier life alongside you. n Paula Garber holds a master’s in education and is a certified animal training and enrichment professional and certified feline training and behavior specialist. She is also certified in lowstress handling, and pet CPR and first aid, and is pursuing a diploma in feline behavior science and technology from the Companion Animal Sciences Institute. Based in Ossining, New York, she owns and operates LIFELINE Cat Behavior Solutions,, is currently chairwoman of PPG’s Cat Committee and is a supporting member of the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants. She also serves on the Cat Protection Council of Westchester in her community. Francine Miller is an applied animal behavior counselor and associate certified dog behavior consultant (IAABC certified associate) who has 13 years experience treating dogs and cats with behavior problems. She currently offers house calls for behavior consultations throughout San Diego County, California under the business name, Call Ms Behaving,, and overnight pet sitting in the area around Carlsbad, California where she resides. She is also the vice chairwoman of the PPG Cat Committee.

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A World of Fun

Angelica Steinker details a host of training games to play when a dog is injured or on crate rest for any reason

The second stage of the training involves Steinker placing her other hand over Power’s muzzle


To start training Power to hold an item, he targets his chin to trainer Angelica Steinker’s palm

any trainers and dog owners are hopelessly addicted to dog sports but, just like in human sports, injuries can occur. Since dogs that do dog sports are often the active, “high-drive” type this can present a big problem in that, when a dog that requires lots of mental and physical stimulation gets injured, he suddenly finds himself stuck in an Xpen for the foreseeable future. My first tip would be to not waste money on an Xpen with horizontal bars as, in my experience, these are easy for some dogs to climb out of – they literally “spiderman” their way to the upper edge and then leap off. Obviously this is *not* a recommended activity for an injured dog. Instead, look for an exercise pen with vertical bars.

Training Games

Dogs that are undergoing physical rehab may be on complete restriction, meaning – ideally – no walking at all. Some dogs may be allowed to engage in very slow walking for short periods of time.What follows are some ideas for games that could apply in either situation. They are listed in order of least active to most active. However, each dog and injury are unique, so please consult a veterinary rehabilitation specialist before engaging in any activity with a dog recovering from an injury or surgery. 24

Once the dog has learned to hold an item, you can start to be more innovative with your object choice

BARKS from the Guild/November 2017

Next, Power is prompted to pick up an object of his choice

#1. Holding an Item Teaching your dog to hold an item is easy and a lot of fun. Dogs that already enjoy picking up items make ideal candidates. Instead of shaping this behavior I prefer prompting it using the “nosewich” method. To start this method, reinforce your dog for offering his chin. In the photo (top left), Power is targeting his chin on my palm. This game can be named “chin” and it is easily lured with a food treat. Next, add the second part of the “nosewich” by reinforcing your dog when you cup your second hand on top of his muzzle (top center). Now, find an item that your dog wants to pick up. Soft toys, Kongs or balls are good choices. Playfully prompt your dog to grab the toy, and when he does, ask him to “chin,” say, “yes” and reinforce. Then add the second part of your “nosewich” (see photo top right). Build duration into the nosewich, and then remove your top hand, say “yes” and reinforce each approximation as you build duration. Finally remove the bottom hand, say “yes” and reinforce. For a final time, add duration. Feel free to “help” your dog by adding one or both hands at any time. There are no rules for how to fade your “help,” so do whatever your dog needs. Now the fun can really start! What types of things can your dog hold? (See photo, bottom center).

TRAINING Steinker starts with Mo in a standing position as she begins training the massage game

#2. Massage Games Massage is something many dogs thoroughly enjoy. Consult with your veterinary rehabilitation specialist to be clear what body parts you can massage and which parts to avoid. In general, use half the pressure that you think will be pleasurable to your dog. Massage the muscle tissue, not any of the boney areas. Common favorite spots are the base of the dog’s ear, the lower back in front of the tail, the tiny muscles between the ribs, and the neck. At first, some dogs may not be comfortable with being massaged while they lie on their sides (see photo, top right). It may be necessary to start massage in a sitting or standing position (see photo, top left). No matter what position you start in, your goal is to get a fluttering eye and to help your dog relax. #3. Stretching Games Again, check with your specialist, but stretching your dog can be a pleasurable activity and a much needed one for a dog in physical recovery. All stretching should be completely voluntary. If you notice your dog is able to stretch more in one direction than in Steinker gently stretches Power’s leg: many dogs will ask for the stretching game once it is offered regularly

Mo enjoys a massage on his side but not all dogs start out being comfortable in this position

another, please contact your vet. In the photo (bottom left), by gently cupping Power’s left elbow with my right thumb and index finger I can pull his leg forward. Pay attention to how far your dog is able to stretch, ideally both front legs have the same reach forward. Many dogs will begin asking for stretching once it is offered on a regular basis.

#4. Paw Target Give paw, wave and hide your eyes are all fun tricks that a dog with a hind end injury can learn. Prior to starting training, evaluate if your dog has paw aptitude. If your dog rarely uses his feet to A paw target can be trained using explore food as a lure under furniture or manipulate toys, teaching paw tricks may take more time. To teach your dog to give paw, hold a piece of food in a closed hand, and when he goes to paw at your hand, say “yes” and open your hand.You can always use your right hand to prompt your dog’s left paw, and your left hand to prompt your dog’s right paw. The paw trick can easily be converted into a wave by raising your hand, wiggling your index finger, and when your dog reaches

BARKS from the Guild/November 2017


TRAINING A paw target can be converted into the dog hiding his eyes

his paw up to touch your fist, slightly moving it away. Finally, you can teach your dog to hide his eyes (see photo, top left) by placing a piece of medical or hypoallergenic paper tape on his muzzle directly next to his nose. When he reaches up to bat away the tape, say “yes” and reinforce. #5. Nose Target

Scent games provide a mental workout and trainers can gradually increase the level of difficulty to make them more challenging

#6. Fun Scent Games There is a whole world of games out there for dog owners who choose to play with their dogs. It is easy to get any dog started in the game of finding food. Simply let your dog see you place a piece of food on the ground tucked behind a toy or small piece of furniture. Gradually increase the level of difficulty. Once a dog understands how to use his nose to locate the odor of food, food can be hidden in boxes for an increased level of difficulty (see photo, top right). Low impact or no impact games are only limited by your creativity. Use the challenging time when your dog is recovering to create a whole new world of fun. n 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

A traditional nose target can be extended to training a number of other behaviors

The traditional nose target is for your dog to touch his nose to the palm of your hand (see photo, above), but why stop there? You can also teach him to touch his nose to the tip of your finger, to your foot or even your cheek.You can capture a nose touch to the palm of your hand by presenting your palm in a playful fashion, which will likely elicit the behavior of the dog investigating it. Then, when he touches your palm, immediately say “yes” and reinforce him. 26

BARKS from the Guild/November 2017


A Fun Way to Get Good Behavior

In the second of this two-part article, Eileen Gillan talks proofing, shaping, luring, poisoning


cues and much more based on her attendance at PPG’s workshop in Tampa, Florida hosted by London-based dog trainer, Kamal Fernandez earlier this year

n the first part of this article (see Training Games, BARKS from the Guild, September 2017, p. 34-36), I highlighted the fact that playing with your dog is more than just fun – it also builds your relationship and is one of the best ways to address the most common reasons dogs make training mistakes. I ended the article with the tale of how I taught a reliable recall, even before I knew anything much about dog training. My question then was, what do you do if you are guilty of poisoning the “come” cue? If you play Kamal Fernandez’s restrained recall game described below, you will not get your dogs reluctantly walking to you, but rather racing to your side – even if there are squirrels around.

Restrained Recall

A) While someone holds the dog, his person runs across the yard, teasing, then calls out the dog’s name. The person who is holding releases the dog, who races to his person, who keeps running. When the dog catches up with his person, they have a huge party, and the person gives the dog lots of praise. B) While someone holds the dog back, his person runs to a halfway point across the yard and stands still, waits three seconds, calls the dog’s name and continues to stand still until the dog is halfway there, then takes off running. Don’t try to catch the dog; the dog needs to catch you. Keep running, change directions, change directions again, then gently grab the dog’s collar and feed. C)s Same as above, except the person stands still longer, until the dog is almost all the way to his person, about 6 to 10 feet away, then the person takes off running. This teaches the dog to race to his person, even when the person is standing still.

Name Game

As trainers, we joke about dogs who think their name is No or Bad Dog because they hear that more than anything else from their owners. We would never do that with our own dogs, of course, but we can always use some new ways to teach our clients how to train their dog to respond to his name. Fernandez’s Name Game is perfect for that purpose. Here’s how you do it: Say the dog’s name. When the dog looks at you, say “yes!” and throw treats away from you. Say “get it!” so the dog runs to retrieve the treats. Repeat, throwing treats in a different direction every time (say the dog’s name, say “yes” when the dog looks at you and throw treats in the other direction. Say “get it!” so the dog runs to retrieve the treats). Throw the food back and forth with every repetition to give the dog practice responding to his name. Fernandez’s Tips for Name Game: When you throw the

One training issue featured in Fernandez’s (pictured, right) workshop was how to address a poisoned cue

treats, think pantomime (dramatic) not ninja (stealthy) to keep the dog’s attention and keep him going in the direction you throw the treats. Dog’s name, “yes!” “get it!” continue game, add collar grab – feed!

Cookies in the Corner

Throw food in the corner. The dog gets it, runs back to you, throw the food again.

Food Circuits

Throw the food, the dog gets it and runs back to you, then has to run around your body before you throw food for him to retrieve again. This game encourages the dog to come to you and stay in close proximity.

ItÊs Yer Choice

This next game teaches impulse control, and Fernandez credits trainer Susan Garrett for its creation. Start off kneeling on the floor with a lot of great treats in your hand clenched on your leg.Your dog can see the treats but can’t get them until he backs off. This teaches the dog that he has to practice self control to get the reward, which we also know as the Premack Principle (the idea that a dog will perform a less desirable behavior for the chance to do a more desirable behavior). I always think of Premack as “that squirrel thing,” and I guess I am not the only one, because when he described the game to us, Fernandez said the treat in your hand is the squirrel. If the dog shows control, he gets the treat. The dog is rewarded for choosing to play the game with you.You can also play the game by putting lower value treats on the floor, and if the dog leaves those BARKS from the Guild/November 2017



treats alone, rewarding him with higher value treats from your hand. The dog makes the choice himself, which is much more powerful than if you cue him with “leave it.”

Playing with Toys

Many trainers primarily use food for reinforcement in training and miss out on more powerful learning opportunities that toys offer. Trainers need to be able to go back and forth between using food and using toys as reinforcers. I found this part of the workshop particularly helpful, as I have never been quite sure how to best use toys for training, although after Fernandez explained it, it seemed perfectly obvious. Working with toys teaches dogs to cope with being aroused and strengthens their ability to maintain focus in the presence of distractions. For dogs that stop paying attention to their trainer when they see a squirrel, training with toys gives you the opportunity to “turn on” and “turn off” the dog, i.e., to get your dog aroused quickly and turn off the arousal just as quickly. Trainers need to know how prey moves to be able to transfer the strong reinforcement of prey to toys, because to dogs, toys are prey. If you understand how to move toys like prey, you know how to kick in your dog’s prey drive, which is much more difficult to do with food alone. Paul Sheinberg, who owns Pawsitive Paul’s Dog Training in Baltimore, Maryland, is adept at using toys to help people with nippy puppies learn to train an alternate behavior that does not involve the use of sharp puppy teeth. He shows people how to get dogs all excited by teasing them with a toy, saying, “Get it! Get it!” while keeping the toy just out of reach, then letting the dog grab it and doing a quick tug game, then revving the dog up again. While the dog is totally aroused and getting ready to start nipping, Sheinberg suddenly stops and cues the dog to sit. The first few times I saw this, I was amazed at how well it works. The key is practicing sit with the puppy all over the house, outside the house, in the car, in the pet store, and everywhere else you can think of. Can your dog sit in the house? Can he sit beside a mouse? Can your dog sit in a box? Can your dog sit with a fox? Can your dog sit here and there? Can your dog sit anywhere? If so, then this method will work for your dog, too.

The Power of Shaping versus Luring

What is the best way to teach dogs the rules of the game: luring or shaping? I know every one of you knows the answer to that: It depends. Fernandez says shaping doesn’t always work well with dogs from strong working lines like border collies who are trained to do specific tasks. Dogs predisposed to offering lots of alternative behaviors would have been bred out of the gene pool generations ago. They often work better with luring at first be28

BARKS from the Guild/November 2017

cause they are bred to look to people for direction. Luring has drawbacks, too, however. If you rely too heavily on luring, the dog will wait for you to show him how to do things rather than offer behaviors you can shape. When you do use luring, plan to fade the lure as quickly as possible. When Fernandez lures his dog, he uses the highest level of reinforcement on the first trial. From the second trial on, he lowers his rate of reinforcement, requiring the dog to offer a behavior so he is not doing all the thinking for him. While luring can train a behavior more quickly, it sticks better when shaped because the dog has thought through the process.You still have to be mindful that you don’t hold out for a behavior for so long that your dog gets frustrated. Training using play is supposed to be fun. If you can train your dog to do five things – get in it, get on it, get around it, go through it, pick it up – you know everything you need to know to do an agility course. If you just want to do agility for fun, you can get a basic agility kit from Outward Hound. I use it in training sessions with shy dogs because after a dog does something he didn’t know he could do – like go over a jump or through a tunnel – it gives him confidence that spills over into other areas of his life. It is the same thing that happens to people when they go through outward boundtype obstacle courses, which is why so many companies send their managers and employees through these programs. It is easy to imagine how you could Training the “come” cue using the restrained recall lure a dog through an obstacle course. game is a good way to get To give us an example of how you your dog racing to you when called, no matter might use shaping to train a dog to pick what the distraction up a dumbbell, Fernandez listed five shaping steps: the dog sniffs the object, mouths it, bites it, grips it, and holds it for an extended period.

More Tips

s Practice mechanics without the dog to get your hand motions and body language fluid before you practice with your dog. I recently watched a Sophia Yin video in which she recommended the same thing. It really is great advice and I’ve started using it with my dog training clients. s People forget that English is a second language for dogs. When they are distracted or stressed out, it is even harder for them to remember the words we think they already know. So many people think their dogs are stubborn, hard-headed, naughty or disobedient when they don’t respond to their verbal cues, when in reality, it is not the dog. Rather, it is operator error that is the real issue, which goes back to Fernandez’s list of reasons dog make mistakes. Number one being they just do not understand what you want from them. When this happens people tend to say the cue over and over, which does not give the dog any more helpful information. If the person uses consistent hand mo-


tions, it is so much easier for the dog to figure out what is being asked. s To proof behavior, don’t label it until you love it (i.e. don’t use the verbal cue until your dog performs the behavior consistently). Like Fernandez, trainer Pat Miller taught me that, when training new behaviors using luring, not to introduce the verbal cue until the behavior is solid. I tell my clients the same thing so they will not be tempted to repeat the cue over and over if their dog does not get it the first time they ask, which just teaches their dog that the cue isn’t “sit,” in fact it is “sit, sit, sit, SIT! SIT!” On a side note, I recently did a training session with a young couple in which the husband’s father was a U.S. Marine. The first time the husband asked his puppy to “SIT!” he barked the word so loudly and sternly that the puppy ran away and I wanted to run away, too. They had mentioned that they hoped to have children one day and I said training their puppy could be good practice for a kinder approach that would make for a much happier family. Both the husband and wife agreed with me. The husband really wanted to be a different type of parent but did not have a role model for another way to be. Positive reinforcement training to the rescue! s Where you reinforce is as important as when you reinforce. Click to reinforce the behavior, then give the dog his treat somewhere different that will get him closer to where you want him to go. Fernandez used the example of handing the dog his treat on the other side of the platform so he has to step on the platform to reach it. Previously, I remember Miller teaching us a similar technique. If we are shaping the dog to go to his mat, we click and treat for every movement towards the mat, and then toss the treat in the other direction, resetting the dog to give him more practice approaching the mat. s In addition to the place where you reinforce, you can also use the number of treats offered to speed up learning. Many trainers use a jackpot to reinforce the dog big time when he finally gets something you have been working on. Fernandez suggests that you can machine-gun feed or click continuously if you want to build duration. Fernandez’s training philosophy really resonates with me because I strive to make my training sessions lots of fun for both people and dogs. Nothing makes me happier than when a client tells me how relieved they are to learn that they do not have to “dominate” their dog to get good behavior, and how happy it makes them to have fun with their dog in the process. n


Gillan, E. (2017, September). Training Games. BARKS from the Guild (26) 34-36. Retrieved September 6, 2017 from Kamal Fernandez:

Eileen Gillan MAS PMCT is based in Baltimore, Maryland and recently started a business called Best Dog On The Block where she coaches people who want to teach their own dogs to be service dogs, therapy dogs and emotional support dogs. She also offers private sessions and group classes in fun and games for dogs and canine cognition. BARKS from the Guild/November 2017



The Best I Can Be

David Shade is a United States military veteran whose boxer Lulu saved his life – twice. Here he details his journey, which started out using aversive methods that, ultimately,


led him to becoming the force-free dog trainer he is today

nfortunately, I have seen firsthand what happens As a crossover trainer, author David Shade sees himself in a to a dog when a misinformed or unaware unique position to empathize owner practices what one might politely call with struggling dog owners because he has been on both questionable training techniques, such as alpha rolling sides of the fence and positive punishment (a.k.a. aversives). As professional trainers and PPG members, we are aware that many dog owners have good intentions but simply do not realize that the application of outdated dominance theory can be incredibly damaging to a dog’s psyche. Indeed, when owners try to establish so-called dominance over a dog to prove themselves to be the “alpha,” the long-term effects can be disastrous. I know, because that’s the kind of dog owner I used to be. At the age of 18, I enlisted in the United States Army, where I was immersed in a deeply masculine culture. It was all about being a “man’s man” and within a matter of weeks, I was firing weapons and blowing things up. It was fun, but I also felt a true sense of purpose for the first time in my life. I became a cavalry scout (reconnaissance infantry) and after completing basic training, airborne school, and readiness training, I was shipped to Afghanistan as part of Operation Enduring Freevised explosive device (IED) hit my vehicle. It was a long and dom where I spent 15 long months serving my country on fortreacherous journey, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything because eign soil. There were many boring, slow-moving, and cold periods it shaped me into being the person I am today. (literally – the mountains of Afghanistan get very cold). However, After a four-year stint in the Army, I was honorably disduring my tour there were also some very intense, kinetic firecharged and decided to set out on my own, but transitioning fights and battles. I witnessed horrible things and lost some close back to civilian life was challenging. While I served, I had everyfriends. I was even injured myself at one point when an improthing I needed in terms of a support network, but now I was on my own, trying to find my way. I made it home, but sometimes it Shade (pictured with Otis) realized through felt like I hadn’t left the battlefield. In fact, I was in the deadly grip direct experience how of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). While driving, I was damaging dominance theory can be to a often plagued by the thought that my vehicle might be hit with dog’s psyche another explosion at any given moment. And no matter where I was, I felt like I was constantly looking around, 360 degrees, to make sure no one was sneaking up on me, ready to attack. But hey, it was just a Tuesday at the grocery store. For me though, it was a dark and dismal place. I was struggling. My road to recovery began when an 8-week-old puppy named Lulu came into my life. A purebred boxer, she quickly became my partner in crime. As I began studying biological sciences at Cabrini University in Radnor, Pennsylvania, we did everything together. We went for long walks, I taught her to play fetch, and took her to dog parks. Everything was perfect. Unfortunately, however, that would soon change. Growing up in my household, dogs were viewed as lesser members of the family, and as such, were treated as “subordinate” to their “masters.” This background, coupled with my


BARKS from the Guild/November 2017

TRAINING Boxer Lulu was trained as a puppy with aversive methods, but became fearful and aggressive as a result

“macho” military persona, made it easy for me to buy into the theories and methods of inhumane dog training. I took in as much information as I could, watching popular television shows and reading books written by trainers using what one might politely call questionable methods, sure that I was educating myself on the best way to train Lulu. When she “misbehaved,” I felt it was right to make her “submit,” or to punish her. If she urinated on the carpet, I would rub her face in it to show her that having an accident in the house would not be tolerated. I simply did not know that she was just a puppy who had had an accident, and that it was my fault for not being a better parent and getting her outside to potty regularly. Unfortunately, the trainer I hired to help me in the beginning practiced questionable tactics as well, such as pinning Lulu to the ground to teach her to lay down. This example only lead me further down the wrong path. By the time Lulu was 2 years old, we had our first major problem. I was a rough and tough dog owner with a boxer who would listen to me no matter what – or so I thought. I didn’t realize that Lulu had become aggressive because of the way I had “trained” her. I was completely shocked when, one day, she bit another dog and did so much damage that the other dog needed surgery. Even though I was sure that I had done a good job of socializing Lulu when she was a puppy, I had unknowingly trained her to be fearful. She became aggressive toward other people (especially men) and most other dogs. I had no one to blame but myself. I thought I had cursed her to a life with few social interactions. I felt like a monster. It wasn’t until years later, after studying biology in college, that I decided to become a professional dog trainer. I had the incredible luck to attend the Catch Dog Trainer’s Academy in Little Falls, New Jersey, which gifted me with all the knowledge I would need to become a force-free, fear-free, and pain-free dog trainer. I learned about all the mistakes I had made with Lulu, and how not to repeat them in the future. Now I find myself visiting the homes of other dog owners who have committed the same training crimes that I once did, and I work with them to solve their problems by rehabilitating dogs and creating management

Shade (pictured with Sam) believes the world needs more force-free dog trainers who are not only men, but men who come from the military, police, and other “highly masculine” cultures: “If I can be converted into someone who does not need to use force or dominance to train dogs effectively, anyone can.”

techniques to help the owners help their dogs. Education is the foundation of everything I do as a dog trainer. I educate people against the use of dominance theory, which can destroy a dog’s personality, his bond with humans, and his overall well-being. I am happy to report that I have had tremendous success practicing a science-based form of dog training that has made many a happy dog and owner. As a dog trainer, I am in a unique position to empathize with struggling dog owners because I have been on both sides of the fence. And honestly, I am grateful for my background. The culture in which I was raised and the machoism I picked up in the military led me to learn some important lessons about how our attitudes affect our dogs’ behavior. And I owe all of this to Lulu, who I can report is now a happy senior girl doing just fine sleeping on my couch and sharing her home with two other dogs, Otis and Sam. Not only did she teach me how to allow myself to fully experience my feelings and strong emotions of love again, she also taught me how to be the very best dog trainer I can be. She showed me how I had failed her, and through that, gave me the first-hand experience I needed to practice a true science- and evidence-based form of dog training. The world needs more force-free dog trainers who are not only men, but men who come from the military, police, and other “highly masculine” cultures. If I can be converted into someone who does not need to use force or dominance to train dogs effectively, anyone can – we just need to continue to work together to educate the world, one dog and one owner at a time. n David Shade is a certified, force-free dog trainer and owner of At Attention Dog Training,, located outside Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He attended the Catch Canine Trainer's Academy in Little Falls, New Jersey, earning a CCDT designation. Previously, he served in the United States Army for four years as a Cavalry Scout in the 82nd Airborne Division, serving a combat tour in Afghanistan. He also studied biological sciences at Cabrini University in Radnor, Pennsylvania.

BARKS from the Guild/November 2017



A Dog’s Ideal Day

Based on several years of personal research, Diane Garrod details the key elements that comprise a dog’s perfect day and provides ways of incorporating them into one’s

Dogs need exercise for physical fitness but movement is only one element of their daily needs


daily life, no matter how busy

Scout (front) and MacGuinness enjoy ball play as part of their ideal day

or seven years, I have studied the effects of stress on dogs and how to alleviate and de-stress based on over 350 researched cases. Through that process, the revelations have shown that what releases stress can also be described as the “keys” to a dog’s ideal day. Following a certain set of guidelines, in effect, keeps stress in the good to normal ranges, while keeping the building of harmful stress, the stress that can cause behavior and health issues, to a minimum. Based on this research, key elements of a dog’s ideal day may be broken down as follows: Relaxation/sleep comprises 50 percent, with 20 percent sensory or toy play, 20 percent enrichment and problem-solving, and 10 percent physical stimulation and exercise (see graphic top center, facing page). In a dog’s life, the concept of the ideal day can open their world, and create a stronger bond and relationship with their humans, enriching their lives. It is worth the effort to get the combination right both for your own dog(s) and for your clients’ dogs. In application, a dog’s ideal day would be his perfect day. As we all know, however, our own lives are not ideal, or perfect, so knowing what comprises an ideal day is key to getting as close as possible. Some days will be less ideal than others, but can still be enriching. Of course, each person’s idea of their dog’s ideal day can be quite different and often depends on lifestyle. Let’s look for a minute at what is not ideal – too much of anything, or not enough of anything; too much exercise, too much sleep; not enough environmental enrichment, not enough interaction and bonding. Here is one example: the dog’s guardian provides a quick potty break in the morning, a quick walk fol32

BARKS from the Guild/November 2017

Dog owners have a wide variety of ideas about what constitutes an ideal day for their dog and what he enjoys doing

lowed by breakfast, then leaves for work, comes home eight hours later, lets Spot out for an evening potty, another quick walk, maybe a ball toss (or just a ball toss) and some cuddling on the couch. This starts all over again the next day. Somewhere in between the ideal and not so ideal can form a good guide as to how a dog’s day can keep stress levels minimal, keep him satisfied and content, and keep behavior problems minimal. When I asked several people what their dog’s ideal day is, some of the answers were: • No triggers. • A special food or eating all day. • Nosework, “find it” and other sniffing games. • A car trip. • A trip to the park. • Hunting. • Playing in the water and swimming. • Naps. • A game of fetch. • Trick or other training. • Play dates. • Cuddles. • A hike somewhere special. • Laying or playing in the sand. • Enrichment walk. • Specialized work (i.e. therapy dog, agility). • Chews. • Working on food toys and squeaky toys. • Running off-leash, time with guardian. • Getting brushed.

• Outdoor enrichment. • Game of tug. • Special outings. • Unlimited treats and attention. • Basic training. • Body awareness exercises. • Scavenging This is a helpful and lengthy list, but lacks a systematic format or ideal. Where does one start? Each dog and each human is different, with diverse lifestyles, various environments and interests. All are wonderful, but what is the right combination that makes for an enriched day that keeps stress minimal and satisfaction optimal? Allowing for a dog’s unique qualities, personality, age, and breed will have a significant impact on what constitutes his ideal day. The career, job, personality, expectations, and ideals of his guardian will also have a significant impact. Even with these variables, working within the keys to a dog’s ideal day (for all dogs) can organize the day, provide the pet guardian with peace of mind, and help the dog be a happier, more rounded companion with minimal issues. It is often the little things that make a difference. Dogs give their guardians clues all the time by being excited to go on a walk, going out somewhere with them, grabbing a favorite toy, showing off what they know, or sleeping where they can find a restful day or night. And they give clues too when they are not getting what they need, like over-barking, becoming hyperaroused, destroying, digging, chasing prey, ignoring the guardian, refusing to eat and escaping to have adventures of their own. To curb, prevent and work through behavior problems a dog’s day should be more than average. To achieve this, let us now look at six areas.

A Systematic Approach

The key to stress release and to a dog’s ideal day covers six areas: 1. Nutrition. 2. Sleep. 3. Sensory activities like sniffing, touch, taste, auditory, visual. 4. Learning through games and toys. 5. Physical movement, exercise, teaching/ training.

A snuffle mat makes the perfect foraging toy


6. Problem-solving, how a dog thinks and copes. Everything revolves around the environment. One cycle per day would be ideal. However, noting where you left off, and starting in the next segment, when you can, is also ideal. In stress release, this cycle would be repeated two to three times per day over a 72-hour period. Starting at the top of the circle is Graphic: Diane Garrod a provision for best nutrition so health can be optimal. Evaluating biologics, such as waste, is an effortless way for a companion dog guardian to know when their dog is ill. The other elements rotate clockwise starting with an after meal digestion relaxation period of 10 to 20 minutes. Any exercise period should also allow for a 20-minute minimum relaxation period before eating or until respiration comes down.

Relaxation Periods

Most dogs need 12 to 14 hours of sleep daily (eight hours at night), so two to four hours during the day. According to the National Sleep Foundation, about 10 percent of a dog’s sleep is REM, so this means they need more total sleep in order to log enough of the restorative kind of REM they need. Puppies, who expend a lot of energy exploring and learning may need as much as 18 to 20 hours. Dogs often spend 50 percent of the day sleeping, 30 percent lying around awake, and just 20 percent being active. The relaxation periods in a dog’s ideal day cycle can be 20 minutes to one hour or more in length and follow activity periods, which studies show are important to memory and learning in dogs. Recently, a team of researchers (2017) in Budapest, Hungary conducted a Allowing for a dog’s unique qualities, study of sleep and personality, age, and breed will have memory in dogs, a significant impact on what constitutes his ideal day titled The interrelated effect of sleep and learning in dogs (Canis familiaris), an EEG and behavioral study. The goal was to evaluate the effects of what a dog does after a training session and his ability to retain what he learned during the session. The study included two phases and involved a group of BARKS from the Guild/November 2017



volunteer pet dogs and their owners. Here are 10 ways to use toys and The first phase used an electroenintelligence games to tire a dog's brain. cephalogram (EEG) to measure the • Foraging or intelligence toys, electrical activity in the dogs' brains something the dog needs to work at to after a training session in which they solve. learned a task. The second phase • Hiding toys, balls, or intellilooked at the impact of different types gence toys outdoors to find. of post-learning activities (such as nap• Opening the toy box and letping) on the dogs' memory consolidating dogs pick their favorites to play. tion, both short- and long-term. • DIY toys, such as a muffin tin Meanwhile, an ongoing study, Lives filled with balls and treats, towel rolls of Streeties – A Study on Free Ranging or bottles as food finds, a taped-up box Dogs, which involved street dogs in to work at to get toys and rewards. Bangalore, India, demonstrated what • Toys that talk, roll, interact free-ranging dogs do on a day-to-day and smart toys the dog must learn to basis: “But even with 400 videos, patsolve. These can get high tech, such as terns emerged. The first big takeaway Go Bone – adding a little motion to Mentally tiring activities keep for me was that these street dogs love dogs busy and prevent boredom your dog’s life. one activity more than any other. In fact, it’s just one activity that • Before leaving for work, set up a “find it” course of safe occupies 40 percent of their activity profile. And there are close activities, like a hidden, filled Kong. to 15 different activities that I identified they are engaged in. But • Set up calming aids such as adaptil diffusers, aromas just one takes the biggest amount of their time – sleeping. Dogs such as lavender, and audible sounds like a radio or television on love to snooze.” (Pangal, 2016). timer, all to relax and provide variety in a dog’s day. • There are 1,001 DIY ideas on Pinterest, starting with Sensory Activities or Toys/Games my own Pinterest boards. While a dog's brain is only one-tenth the size of a human brain, • Set up predesensitized mats to signal relaxation plus a the part controlling smell is 40 times larger than in humans. Acgame or two nearby hidden under a towel or blanket to work cording to the Alabama Cooperative Extension System (ACES), a on later. dog's sense of smell is about 1,000 times keener than that of their • Snuffle mats can be bought or made. two-legged companions. As a dog inhales a scent, it settles into his spacious nasal cavity, which is divided into two chambers and, Physical Stimulation ACES reports, is home to more than 220 million olfactory recepDogs need exercise for physical fitness, but exercise is not all tors (humans have just 5 million). Looking at just a dog’s nose in they need. Exercise can come in many forms. One of these is this way shows how important sensory activities are to them. “housecersize” (i.e. setting up obstacle The rest of the senses need exerciscourses around the house and yard, oning too: taste through tasty rewards and leash yard walks, filling a backpack of fun nutritional meals, hearing various dispersing items like tug toys, various sounds, and mindful touch to form a types of balls, a flirt pole and more), or positive connection. body movements through K9 CondiSensory activities would include: tioning, parkour, dog sports, walks or 1. Foraging for meals. jogs, off-leash runs, sprinting activities 2. Sniffing on an awareness walk, like fetch. Pick one.Vary what is done allowing a dog to be a dog. daily. These work different muscles. 3. “Find it” games. 4. Aromatherapy. Problem Solving 5. Aromatic sensory gardens to Dogs who problem solve usually cope explore. better with life and become thinking 6. Warm towel to relieve muscle dogs. Problem-solving is quite different tension. from toy play, intelligence toys and en7. Mindful touch like Tellington richment in that it requires a dog to TTouchTM or animal massage. think through a problem dealing with Picking one sensory activity in the finding, connectivity, making decisions, morning before leaving for work, or letfollowing clues and more. Here are five ting a dog play with favorite toys or ideas for problem-solving activities: searching for their breakfast in games • Set up interactive feeding can go a long way to satisfying what he Graphic: Carol Byrnes with Clever Pet. needs prior to starting a work day. 34

BARKS from the Guild/November 2017

• • • •


Basket challenge. Clue test. Color recognition. Size recognition.

Multiple Dogs

An ideal day for multiple dogs can be challenging and while the format stays the same, who does it and when is different. I have three dogs and I like to rotate who does what and where in the cycle. Providing for one-on-one time with the guardian is important, as well as time together. Providing safe zones and areas of relaxation for everyone is important too.

Working Guardian

place, no matter what your lifestyle, and watch your dog thrive like never before. Even if you do not cover all the elements in the cycle every single day, you will still be giving your dog the attention, enrichment, mentally tiring activity, exercise and rest he needs consistently to keep problems minimal and enjoyment at a maximum.Your next move with your dog can make a significant impact on his ideal day! n


Kis, A., Szakadát, S., Gácsi, M., Kovács, E., Simor, P, Török, C., Gombos, F., Bódizs, R., & Topál, J. (2017). The interrelated effect of sleep and learning in dogs (Canis familiaris), an EEG and behavioral study. Scientific Reports (7) 41873. Retrieved September 7, 2017, from Pangal, S. (2016). Lives of Streeties – A Study on Free Ranging Dogs. Retrieved September 7, 2017, from

It is not good for puppies or highly active adolescent dogs when their guardian is out at work all day but, unfortunately, this is unResources avoidable in many cases. Most dogs will be content sleeping much Birmelin, I. (2006). How Dogs Think: A Guide to a Beautiful Reof the time their person is away from home, but puppies, adoleslationship. London, UK: Metro Books cents, and many highly energetic breeds may need more. Making Clever Pet: provisions for pet sitting in the home, or having someone come GoBone: in to spend time with a dog can prevent behavior issues from deHorowitz, A. (2016). Being a Dog: Following the Doginto a veloping, however. World of Smell. New York, NY: Scribner Burning off energy is important in a dog’s ideal day so the K9 Conditioning: working guardian needs to start their dog’s day with a good Macher, M. (2017, September). The Challenge that Keeps on walk, ideally 30 to 60 minutes long. Starting the cycle each mornGiving. BARKS from the Guild (26) 37-39. Retrieved September ing at the physical stimulation/exercise/training level will benefit 7, 2017, from everyone. Ideally, if someone trusted could come in to walk the National Sleep Foundation: dog(s), that would allow for problem solving, nutrition, digestion Parkour: relaxation, and sensory or toys in the evening as a wind-down. High tech solutions could include, even for those that do not Diane Garrod PCT-A CA1 BSc is a certified American Treibspend a lot of time away or have home businesses, supervising ball Association instructor, and a judge, charter member and the dog via an indoor security cameraA or setting up video chats marketing chair for the National Association of Treibball Enover Skype. thusiasts. She is also the owner of Canine Transformations, To keep dogs busy and prevent boredom at home, guardians, based in Langley, Washington, where she can set up a foraging course before leaving. Cups spread out conducts Treibball workshops, classes and private consults. around the house with treats underneath, or a favorite ball, or a stuffed Kong can provide mentally tiring activity. Put treats in a Kong or hide treat-dispensAnimal Jobs Direct is passionate about ing toys, but make sure they are safe and have animal welfare and dedicated to raising no small parts. Put out chews and toys the standards in animal welfare through dog can interact with, such as those that spin, education. We are accredited as a talk or move. recognised course and training provider by The Clever Pet interactive feeding game is 4 National Awarding Bodies. We offer over also an excellent tool (see The Challenge that 100 accredited animal care courses Keeps on Giving, BARKS from the Guild, September 2017 pp. 37-39). It involves a training designed in consultation with employers, to process of shaping by successive approximaincrease employment and career prospects. tions and connects to Wi-Fi. The dog must Please visit our website or contact us for figure out a light pad sequence to release a All our free careers and training advice. reward, with several levels involved. courses How fun or boring you make your dog’s advocate force-free day is totally up to you. What adventures you methods provide in the way of enrichment and outings ONLY is up to you.Your dog will happily follow your lead. Take a moment for yourself and your Tel: 0208 6269646 dog today. Get some ideal day elements in

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BARKS from the Guild/November 2017



Becoming Your Dog’s Champion

Sharon Empson explains the importance of advocating for your dog, being able to read his


body language and acting as his voice in situations where he feels uncomfortable

ogs are masters In order to be able to support and advocate for of communicatheir dogs, owners need tion, using their to know what their pets do and do not like to do body language to indicate fear, anxiety, joy, frustration and many other emotional states. Unfortunately, however, their signals are not always well understood by their owners or the general public. Let’s say Gypsy’s owner, Shelly, enjoys taking Gypsy to the dog park. Each time they arrive, however, Gypsy hangs back from the gate and only enters the area reluctantly after some time. Once inside the dog park, Shelly unleashes Gypsy and then spends her time talking with her friends. She feels good about taking Gypsy to the dog park since her vet has told her it is important for her dog to be socialized with other dogs. As Shelly talks with her friends, however, Gypsy hides behind Shelly’s legs, with her ears down and her head turned away from a shaggy, overly excited dog that is trying to play with her. Panting and slobbering, he jumps on Gypsy and chases her around her owner’s legs. Overwhelmed, Gypsy continually seeks the help of Shelly, but Shelly is still busy talking with her friends. Now let’s take a look at Dan, who is very excited about life with his new puppy, Barney. Wanting Barney to be well socialized, Dan takes Barney with him wherever he goes. At the hardware store Dan puts a blanket in the shopping cart and places Barney on top of it. It isn’t long before they encounter a family with children coming down the aisle toward them. Barney is a very cute puppy and the kids can hardly contain themselves. They run toward Dan and plunge their arms into the cart, their hands moving quickly toward Barney. Barney moves to the back of the cart and tries to look very small. He even turns and stands up on the inside of the cart near Dan, asking him for help. The kids, meanwhile, run around to the other side of the cart and start petting Barney all over and talking to him in loud excited voices. Dan wants his puppy to enjoy people so he does not intervene. Shelly and Dan have something in common. Both want the best for their dogs, but both are completely unaware of how the dogs are reacting to the environment and the emotions they are experiencing.Yet many of us would feel very uncomfortable if a stranger came running toward us and grabbed us, trying to hug 36

BARKS from the Guild/November 2017

and kiss us, so why do we expect our dogs to like it? Today we know that dogs are emotional beings. There may be little evidence – yet – that dogs experience emotions such as guilt, shame, jealousy and pride, but we do know that they experience pain, anxiety, boredom, fear, joy, comfort and excitement. According to Coren (2013): “We have now come to under© Can Stock Photo/DragoNika stand that dogs possess all of the same brain structures that produce emotions in humans. Dogs have the same hormones and undergo the same chemical changes that humans do during emotional states. Dogs even have the hormone oxytocin, which, in humans, is involved with feeling love and affection for others. With the same neurology and chemistry that people have, it seems reasonable to suggest that dogs also have emotions that are similar to ours.” Since our dogs are emotional beings, it is important we do what we can to provide an environment that helps to promote positive emotions in their daily lives. When we set our dogs up for positive experiences, we are actually helping to build their confidence, their trust in us and in the world around them. We want our dogs to feel confident we are there for them, like we are their champion. A champion is one that pleads, supports, or promotes the cause or the interests of another. How, then, can we plead, support, and promote our dogs’ best interests? Here are some tips:

Speak Dog

We cannot support the interests of our dogs if we don’t know what they like and don’t like. Dogs express themselves by using their body language, facial expressions and vocalizations. They make subtle body movements that tell other dogs how they are feeling. Dogs also use this language to communicate with us. The problem is that people are often completely unaware of what their dogs are trying to communicate. Have you ever been talking with someone only to have him or her completely ignore you? It feels pretty uncomfortable. Depending on what we are communicating, we may even try to get their attention by speaking louder or touching their shoulder. We want to be heard, and so do our

dogs. Becoming your dog’s champion means taking in all his signals as they tell the complete story about his emotional state. Here are a few examples of body language a dog may display when he is nervous, anxious or trying to avoid a situation: • The dog tries to move away from situation. • Turning the head away. • Body rigid or tense. • Tail between legs. • Rolling over on the back. • Ears back and rapid panting. • Whites of the eyes clearly visible. • Lip licking or yawning (when the dog is not hungry or tired). • Growling. • Air snapping or biting. (See Dog Body Language for more information.)

Setting up for Success

What, then, can dog owners do to reduce stressful situations in their pet’s environment? Being your dog’s champion means you know how to read and understand his body language, and can thus intervene in any situation where he is feeling stressed. Look around to see what is going on at the park before you enter. If you see a dog running loose either with the owner unable to control him or no owner anywhere to be found, do not place your dog in that situation. Another situation to be aware of is well-meaning people who just want to run up to your dog and pet him, such as those we met earlier with Dan and his puppy Barney. Barney was trying to tell Dan that being in an enclosed space and all those little hands touching him, with all that busy activity and loud voices, made him uncomfortable. I always recommend that my clients take treats with them when they are out with their dog. Of course, the tiny treats are for reinforcing the dog, but can also be used to train people who want to interact. Thus, when an interested stranger approaches and asks either if they can pet the dog or are about to reach out and touch him, I recommend for the dog owner to ask the person if they would like to help train the dog to welcome strangers. This means asking them if they would like to give a treat to the dog and showing them how (i.e. placing the treat on their open palm, placing their hand a few inches from the dog, and if they can, squatting down to appear smaller, which can help the dog feel less threatened or overwhelmed). If the dog backs away, as their dog’s champion, I recommend they say something like, “Oh, Sparky isn’t comfortable with taking the treat yet,” and then ask them to drop the treat on the ground. Never force your dog to interact with people. Remember, your goal is to build positive experiences for your dog. Giving him a choice helps him feel more confident and relaxed in his environment, and build trust.


If a dog is comfortable with strangers, I suggest that they can pet him on his chest and not on the top of his head, then thank them and move on. This strategy helps to detour a stranger from rushing up and trying to pet the dog, it keeps the interaction short and positive, and as you move your dog away from the friendly stranger, takes pressure off the dog. If our friend Dan had had treats with him, he could have asked the children to take turns giving Barney a treat and showed them how to pet a puppy so it isn’t scary. What a different experience it would have been for Barney.

Being Flexible

Our aim, then, is to set up positive experiences for our dogs and to promote their well-being. Being a champion for your dog means you will need to be flexible in your goals for him. Anytime he shows you he is uncomfortable about his environment in any way, note the trigger and make a training plan that will help him through the stressful situation next time. In the same way, the next time Dan takes Barney with him to the store, he can plan ahead by cutting up some of Barney’s favorite high value treats to take with him. He will place them in a treat bag he purchased at the pet store and off he goes, Dogs show their discomfort through their body language not just to get what he needs at and by being aware of this, the store, but on a mission to be owners can intervene to avoid stressful situations his dog’s champion. In this case, this means being aware of the people in the store, and ready to intervene by using the treats to help them interact with Barney in a positive way Barney will enjoy. Thus, as soon as someone approaches and wants to pet Barney, Dan gets out a yummy treat and allows the stranger to give it to the pup. Dan lets the © Can Stock Photo/BMFGbR stranger know where Barney likes to be touched and for how long. It isn’t long before Barney is looking forward to meeting people instead of shying away from them. Barney begins to see people as something good because he is being positively reinforced through positive attention and tasty treats.

Be Your DogÊs Voice

Never be afraid to politely let people know what your dog does not like. Being your dog’s champion means being his voice. When I take my dog to the vet I always take delicious treats and reinforce him for any interaction with the vet or vet tech. Ideally, though, you don’t want to wait until the day of the vet visit to reinforce being handled by the vet or getting used to procedures that will be carried out while there. One option is to “play vet” at home, look into the dog’s ears, check his teeth, perhaps hold him in a gently restraining manner, and as you do each procedure, reward with yummy treats. When you play vet, take your time and gradually make sure your dog is comfortable with each procedure. If at any time the dog is telling you through his body language that he is uncomfortable, stop, take a step back and work in smaller stages. Soon your dog will be used to you hanBARKS from the Guild/November 2017



dling him like he is getting a vet check.You could then take a step farther and invite someone, a family member or close friend your dog trusts, and go through the steps all over again. If at any time, you see through your dog’s body language that he is uncomfortable, be your dog’s voice and don’t be shy to speak up. Be polite, and informative about what your dog is trying to say.

© Can Stock Photo/AntonioGravante

Detective Work

Pet owners can “practice” at home to help their dog feel more relaxed during a visit to the vet

Research boarding and day care facilities before you place your dog there. If you cannot walk into a boarding or day care facility and ask for a tour, do not take your dog to stay there. Make sure you visit more than once if possible and watch closely how the staff handle

the dogs that are boarded or staying there. Always get references from previous clients. Remember, what happens to your dog at boarding and day care facilities can have a huge impact on him, either negative or positive. The same goes for training centers. If they do not allow you to discretely watch a class, I for one would not put my dog there. Of course, you would not bring your dog or cause distractions, perhaps sitting in a far corner of the room or behind a one way window made just for those purposes. Check out the trainer’s credentials too, and ask for references. If you see any trainer handling your dog in a way that causes him to tell you through his body language that he is unhappy or uncomfortable, remember to be your dog’s voice and speak up on his behalf. Every day our dogs face environmental stressors and it is up to us to be their champion and help them to navigate in a way that helps them feel comfortable. Our goal is a well-rounded, happy dog who is comfortable in his environment. n


Coren, S. (2013).Which Emotions Do Dogs Actually Experience? Psychology Today. Retrieved September 7, 2017, from Pet Professional Guild. (2017). Dog Body Language. Retrieved September 7, 2017, from /DogBodylanguage

Sharon Empson is a Karen Pryor Academy certified training partner who is based in Lake Elsinore, California.

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For people who are serious about their dogs!


Structure for a Smooth Stay

In her ongoing series of articles focusing on industry health and safety standards for canine boarding and day care facilities, Lauri Bowen-Vaccare focuses on environmental

y most recent two articles have focused on whether dogs attending day care or boarding facilities are suitable for group play, how this should be assessed to ensure the safety of all parties, and that the dogs actually enjoy the opportunity to socialize with other dogs (see Playing It Safe, BARKS from the Guild, July 2017, pp. 38-39 and The Low-Down on Group Play, BARKS from the Guild, September 2017, pp. 45-47). I am now going to look at some of the ways facility operators can increase the options for environmental enrichment so the resident dogs can enjoy a mental as well as physical workout and engage in some of their natural behaviors at the same time. Many facilities will have play yards, indoor play spaces, or both. Within these spaces: • Many facilities include scent detection games, flirt pole play time, agility, and other activities for the dogs. o If food is present during these activities, dogs should participate in these activities, one at a time, with the handler. o Some of these activities will require one-on-one participation between dog and handler. • Agility equipment, playground equipment, dog-safe plants and other objects provide the dogs with ways to work their brain, investigate their world, and give themselves a break from play if they want. o Equipment is to be placed on solid, level surfaces to help prevent injury. • Activities involving food should be reserved for one dog at a time. o Dogs who do not live together should never eat together. This applies whether they are scavenging in an indoor play area, outdoor play yard, making use of food puzzles, or celebrating another dog’s birthday, etc. o This may also apply to family dogs who eat together at home, even if they have no problems at home with food. If owners have multiple dogs, and they prefer them not to share space when food is present, staff should make note of this in each dog’s file and adhere to their owner’s request. If owners have multiple dogs, and want to ensure they eat the right amount and/or are not able to eat each other’s food for any reason (e.g. they have different diets, one dog is on a prescription diet, etc.), staff must make note of this in the dogs’ files and separate your dogs at meal times. A responsible facility will separate the dogs if they notice even the slightest issue between them when food is present, even if specific instructions to do so were not given by the owners. The staff will inform the owners of this. - The facility must provide safe, enclosed individual eating areas. (Sharing food at close quarters is generally not a normal behavior for dogs, especially when they are away from home, and particularly among animals who do not live together.) o Staff need to make sure dogs who live together are safe to eat together. - If owners advise staff that their dogs have no problems eat40

BARKS from the Guild/November 2017

Environmental enrichment is important at boarding facilities and day cares to ensure dogs get both a physical and mental workout, safely

© Can Stock Photo/digoarpi


enrichment and how to best structure the time dogs spend at the facility

ing together, and the staff see anything to contradict this, the dogs are to be immediately separated and eat separately for the remainder of their visit. Staff will inform owners of this safety precaution, even if the dogs eat together when home again. Dogs are to eat separately for all future visits. • If walks, outside of play time are offered, dogs should be walked using a harness or their flat or martingale collar. Choke chains, nylon choke chains and prong collars are not to be used. o If these walks occur outside of a fenced area, the dogs should wear their collar with their ID tag, as well. o Dogs should not be walked outside of a fenced area if the facility is on or near a busy road. o Some facilities make use of facility-owned leashes, rather than the dogs’ personal leashes. This can be for sanitary or behavioral purposes. - The leash tends to be the most contaminated piece of a dog’s wardrobe: owners often attach used poop bags to leash handles. - Some dogs become overly excited at the sight of their own leash, and may think they are going home (even though they may love the facility), but are “only” going for a walk around the property. An overly excited dog can be very difficult to walk, and may pose a higher risk of injury to himself or his handler.

Structured Rest Time

• All day play time poses health and injury risks and dogs should be given at least as much rest time as play time. o Too much physical activity can also elevate arousal levels to the point where the dog is literally unable to relax, which can encourage fighting. o Seniors and dogs under one year of age, as well as those with arthritis, etc. need more downtime than the average,

healthy adult dog. o Brachycephalic (i.e. short-snouted) breeds need more downtime than dolichocephalic (i.e. long-snouted) breeds, especially during the summer months. o Overstimulated dogs may become “adrenalin junkies” and may develop general anxiety, lacking the ability to settle, even when home. o Exhaustion is a sign of overstimulation, which may also be caused by attending too often and/or for periods that are too long for that dog. For dogs who do not participate in group play or group play is not offered by the facility: • Four to six 30- to 45-minute interactive human-dog sessions are necessary throughout the day.These sessions should be divided between play, walks, settled companionship time, training or teaching a trick (if applicable to that facility), etc. • Dogs who do not participate in group activities need more oneon-one attention with staff members. o The following can be incorporated into the dog’s visit: extra walks, massage, play (fetch, catching bubbles, tug, agility, scent work games, flirt pole, resting with a food puzzle or chew in the same room where an employee is doing chores/reading, attending to administrative work, etc.). • If the facility does not offer group play, human-dog interaction, beyond feeding times, is absolutely necessary. o Dogs should receive at least three 30-minute play sessions/ outside time (separate from potty breaks) daily. o If dogs are walked for potty breaks, these should be counted separate from play sessions/outside time and should be approximately 15 minutes in length. o Length of walks and physical activity will depend on the dog’s age and general health. o If kennels are not equipped with attached private outdoor runs, the aforementioned activities are even more important. - Even dogs who reside in kennels that have attached outdoor runs, need to be given several trips outside of their designated kennel/run, for human interaction. At the time of pick-up there should also be some set procedures in place to ensure everything goes smoothly for all concerned: • For dogs who belong to multi-dog households, it is often easiest and less stressful for them, their humans and the staff to be brought out to the lobby one at a time. o To prevent crowding in the lobby, dog owners are encouraged to pay for services rendered and attend to other administrative needs (e.g. scheduling future visits, receiving a report about their dog’s visit, etc.) either before an employee brings their dog and his belongings out to them, or after putting their dog in their car. • Dogs should be brought out to their owners on leash and remain on leash until the time they are placed in their vehicles. o Regular four- to six-foot leashes are preferred over Flexi or retractable leashes for safety purposes. If a dog’s owner makes use of a Flexilead, it should be locked at a length of no more than 6 feet. o Owners should be encouraged to keep their dogs from approaching other dogs and humans in the lobby and while walking their dogs in


the designated area. • All dogs should be on leash and allowed enough space so that they are not forced into an unwanted meet and greet. o Dogs who have a history of aggression or reactivity toward other dogs and/or humans should be physically removed from the lobby before other dogs and/or humans walk through the space. • Owners should be provided an oral or written report of the dog’s visit should they inquire. Staff should take the time to answer owners’ questions, should they have any. o Some facilities provide an oral and/or written report card following each visit. o Owners should understand that the staff’s job is not to address training, behavior or veterinary health, and should refrain from seeking advice pertaining to those areas, except to ask if their dog exhibits a particular behavior while visiting the facility that s/he may or may not exhibit elsewhere. o Facilities are encouraged to maintain a list of local positive reinforcement-based trainers and behavior professionals and veterinarians should their clients inquire about these services, or to whom the staff can refer. • Owners are encouraged to walk their dogs for five to 10 minutes, in a designated area, before putting them in their car. o This will help the dogs relax prior to the journey. n


Bowen-Vaccare, L. (2017, July). Playing It Safe. BARKS from the Guild (25) 38-39. Retrieved September 7, 2017, from Bowen-Vaccare, L. (2017, September). The Low-Down on Group Play. BARKS from the Guild (26) 45-47. Retrieved September 7, 2017, from Lauri Bowen-Vaccare ABCDT is the owner of Warren, Kentucky-based Believe In Dog, LLC, www.believeindog, and is an honors graduate of Animal Behavior College, with a specialty in training shelter dogs. Her focus is on the dog-human team, and she specializes in reactivity, resource guarding, fearful and timid dogs, bringing outside dogs in, and outside pet dogs. She also advises and assists trainers who want to cross over to force-free training.

BARKS from the Guild/November 2017



The Long Way Home

Lara Joseph discusses the power of off-contact training, as demonstrated with Koko, the

umbrella cockatoo, who had no access to human contact in his original zoo environment


but now regards tactile interaction as one of the most powerful reinforcers

oko is a male umbrella cockahim to the edge of the cage where I too that I was lucky enough to was standing. As he began walking tostart working with in a zoo just wards me I would hand him a larger under two years ago. The first few piece of scrambled egg. I made the times I met him, I would stand at a dispieces larger in order to avoid contance and observe him inside his cage tact with his beak. I began calling him to get a better understanding of him by from side to side, the initial stages of reading his body language. I asked the recall. As I continued teaching this, I other keepers about his history, but got a better read on Koko’s body lanunfortunately much was unknown. I guage and my pieces of scrambled egg noticed, however, that Koko was not became smaller. Through consistency, getting out of his cage like the other predictability and desensitization, I parrots were. When I inquired about was able to get my hands closer to this I was told that it was because he his beak and train a conditioned reinwould start chasing people’s feet along forcer. the floor and would bite them. This is I then taught Koko to station in actually a common, undesirable behavthe center of this perch. I did this beior with many cockatoos. I asked if cause I wanted to be able to open his Koko could fly and was told he did not cage door. I would bridge as soon as – but this did not mean he could not. Koko went to the center of the perch Koko’s initial interactions with humans Again, this is not uncommon in many while I opened the door and delivin his new zoo environment had been paired with aversives, meaning he did birds that were never allowed to ered a larger piece of scrambled egg fledge, a critical time period when they not like to be handled again. I needed that distance between are chicks to learn to fly. my fingers and his beak. Once again, I was teaching Koko that reNext, I inquired how the situation had been handled when quested behaviors brought desired consequences. Koko had been allowed out on previous occasions, and was told Through the sides of the cage bars, I began feeding Koko the keepers would back him in a corner with a broom until he smaller pieces of reinforcers with pine nuts as I continued to obstepped onto a stick. At this point he could be returned to his cage, serve what calm behavior looked like for him. It was soon time or covered with a towel and returned to his cage. It became clear to proceed with training another behavior and I wanted to go to me that, during Koko’s time at the zoo his interactions with hufrom off-contact to protective contact, because I thought, based mans had commonly been paired with aversives, so I agreed to take on my observations, that Koko might find value in being touched. To begin this process I put a perch on the inside of his door on the challenge of working with him. It was my goal to get him out so that if Koko perched on it, I could make contact with him. This of his cage and make it a pleasurable experience for him. To start with, I asked that he not be fed by anyone else other would mark the beginning stages of getting him out of his cage. I than myself. I would come in the mornings and feed him a variety also wanted to see if I was correct in my observation that he might find value in human contact. In placing the perch on his of foods and would stand next to his cage to observe the first things he chose to eat. Items I identified as first to be eaten were door, I would reinforce his station in the middle of the perch alscrambled eggs, corn, peas, and blueberries. The next time I came ready in the cage. The next step was to start teaching Koko to station on the in, I gave him a wide variety of foods but excluding the scrambled perch on his door. I also noticed that the pine nuts were of eggs, corn, peas, and blueberries. Those items were to be given higher value to him than the scrambled egg, so I reinforced the only by me. I told the staff they could begin feeding him again, new station with the pine nuts. with the exception of these items. At the same time, I was dropOnce the new station was trained, I began targeting Koko’s ping a variety of other items in his dish and quickly identified beak to between the cage bars, pushing it through as far as he pine nuts were of high value. could get it while still being comfortable. I trained this in anticiKoko had two perches in his cage, one which ran the entire pation of my being able to open the door and get my hands in to width of the cage. I would hold up the scrambled egg and lure 42

BARKS from the Guild/November 2017

touch the back of his head. It was an incompatible behavior, meaning that if his beak was targeted between the cage bars, he could not turn and lunge at me if I tried petting him from behind. If he moved his beak, I would remove my hand. Once his beak was poking through the cage bars, I began putting my chest up to his beak to test if I was accurately reading behavior. If he opened his mouth, I was prepared As Koko began walking towards to back up – but he trainer Lara Joseph, never did. she would hand him a larger piece of Once I began the reinforcement touching the back of Koko’s head, he began closing his eyes and seemed to enjoy the tactile interaction. I identified this as a highly valued reinforcer, much more so than the pine nuts. Koko had not had this type of interaction for the whole two years he had been at the zoo before I started training him. At this point I knew the keepers would not be consistent with the training because they did not have the time. I informed the zoo that this inconsistency, however, could set keepers up for failure given their intention to use Koko for educational programs. As such, I asked for Koko to be relinquished to me and my training center. Luckily, they agreed. We made the move and provided Koko with a huge enclosure which had many perches and at least seven different foraging toys to encourage him to begin exploring his new environment. After Koko’s move, I also observed he wanted to be closer to my resident cockatoos, Rico and Rocky. We placed his enclosure across from them so he could have full view of them, and that is when I started seeing all the Koko now shows signs cockatoos begin to of great contentment communicate with him when in the company of other cockatoos both visually and vo-


cally. This was incredibly empowering for Koko. I noticed during one of his showers that Koko could not fully extend one of his wings. It looked like it had been broken and I then realized he would never be able to fly. I decided to design a large hanging perch for him outside his cage. I knew he would chase people’s feet because I had seen it whenever I would walk by his enclosure so the new hanging perch would prevent the undesirable behavior from being reinforced. The question was, how did I get him from his enclosure to the new hanging perch? I was not comfortable putting my hands near Koko without cage bars between us or without him having his beak targeted between the cage bars. I had observed that he was not comfortable with large perches or anything that looked like a large perch, for instance a broom. This was not surprising due to his previous association with the broom at the zoo and it ruled out using a long perch to move him from point A to point B. Instead, I picked Once Koko had an item that I learned where could move to station, Joseph began him with that targeting his did not resembeak to between the ble a long stick. cage bars The item was a wire carrier. I began with training Koko to step on top of the carrier. Then I began shaping his allowing me to move the carrier with him on it. The more I did this, the more I was shaping the carrier as a conditioned reinforcer for change and choice by being out of his enclosure. Koko seemed to anticipate coming out of the enclosure and would strut across the top of his new hanging gym. He began playing with all the toys, preen, bathe, and sleep on the hanging perch. These were all signs that he felt comfortable. I was so excited to see the change in behavior and that Koko was starting to feel empowered. I attached a lower perch on the hanging gym for him to climb down so he could be at eye level with me. If he was at my eye level, I could better observe his body language and he could better observe mine. I needed us both to do this so we could advance his training. BARKS from the Guild/November 2017



Koko flaps his wings with what I see to be excitement. I call Rico back to me and sit with him in close proximity to Koko and Rocky. Koko shows signs of great contentment when he is in close proximity to the other cockatoos. Meanwhile, our training with Koko continues. I am not sure of all the behaviors I will be able to get from him, but I am content him just living life here being the cockatoo he deserves to be. Welcome home Koko, welcome home. n

Koko was uncomfortable with being moved on a perch due to prior negative associations, so Joseph trained him to be moved on a wire carrier instead

Once Koko was down to my level, I began asking for known behaviors such as targeting his beak to my chest, except this time without cage bars. He did it perfectly, and still does. I have now been able to move my off-contact training to protective contact, and finally to full contact. Koko now resides at my facility and I am able to walk him out into our 10,000 square foot enclosure where I can get the other cockatoos out and around him. As Rico flies through the center,

Lara Joseph is the owner of Sylvania, Ohio-based The Animal Behavior Center LLC,, an international, educational center that focuses on teaching people how to work with animals using positive reinforcement and approaches in applied behavior analysis. She travels internationally giving workshops, lectures, and provides online, livestreaming memberships on animal behavior, training and enrichment. She also sits on the advisory board for All Species Consulting, The Indonesian Parrot Project, and is director of animal training for Nature’s Nursery, a wildlife rehabilitation center in Whitehouse, Ohio. She is the founder of several organizations for animal welfare, has been asked to co-author, and is currently working on, international manuals of animal behavior and training. She is a published author, writes regularly for several periodicals, and will also be a guest lecturer in the upcoming college course Zoo Biology, Animal Nutrition, Behavior and Diagnostics taught by Dr. Jason Crean at St. Xavier University, Chicago, Illinois.

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BARKS from the Guild/November 2017

The Right Solution


In the second part of this two-part article which focuses on a horse’s basic needs,

Kathie Gregory continues the discussion with a focus on enrichment for equines,

n the first part of this article (see Maintaining Homeostasis, BARKS from the Guild, September 2017, pp. 52-54), we focused on a horse’s basic needs as a foundation for providing enrichment. We are now going to take a more detailed look at enrichment, and exactly what this entails for horses. The first question to ask is, what exactly is enrichment? Technically, it is something that makes life better and more fulfilling. But does that mean we can say we are providing enrichment when we are actually providing for basic needs? Where does providing for basic needs end, and enrichment start? You could argue that for wild animals living in the wild, there is perhaps little or no option for providing enrichment. Species have evolved to live and get all they need from their natural environment. Enrichment for animals was really conceived as a way of addressing the deficiencies that come with captivity and domestication. There is no doubt that, to some extent, enrichment is a means of trying to replicate or provide an alternative to things that would be classed as basic needs were the animal living in his natural environment. Unfortunately, there is always something of a compromise involved, as a truly natural lifestyle is one where an animal lives in the wild, as intended. Domestication has, over time, made a difference to the species we have chosen to domesticate, but that does not in any way equate to animals being content to live lim-

Photo: Alizé Veillard-Muckensturm


Horses like to use their teeth and feet to explore and investigate, so provide objects such as footballs and cones for play opportunities

Photo: Alizé Veillard-Muckensturm

Scratching posts can be made out of old tree trunks, tires or anything that can be covered with a suitable scratching surface

tailored to individual preference

ited by captivity and the suppression of their natural behaviors. Looking at welfare and ethics, the aim should be to only take on an animal if an approximation of a “natural” life can be provided, where the elements lacking are the minority not the majority. This is easier said than done, of course. Humans have evolved and commandeered the use of animals for the benefit of industry and pleasure, and not always to the benefit of the animals involved. Subsequently, awareness and understanding of the effect our human control has on a species has only been realized much later. Horses are now an established part of human life and are relied on for their participation in people’s livelihoods across the world. It is simply not possible to stop how we keep horses and start from scratch on a mass scale. There is no easy solution to resolving this issue, and so enrichment becomes a very important part of addressing the situation. In my opinion, each individual, business, and industry should be tasked with creating a long-term plan to effect change and address the many significant deficiencies in how animals are kept in captivity. Captivity is an emotional word, and pet owners do not typically view their companion animals as “captive.” The dictionary definition of captivity refers to a person or animal that is kept somewhere and is unable to leave. The stark associations the word captivity brings to mind are often very different to the comfortable existence many of our companion animals enjoy. BARKS from the Guild/November 2017


However, despite the wonderful environments and lives some of our animals live, there are many more that do not enjoy such good conditions. Whatever the situation, they are all “captive” to an extent, and this makes enrichment not just important but a very necessary area to address. In terms of horses, it can be difficult to provide an adequate environment for our equine friends when space is limited, or if you are constrained by the rules of the establishment where your horse is boarded. Every situation is different and requires a solution that is workable for the circumstances and improves any deficiencies of that particular situation. There are many different ideas and being able to think creatively really helps. Whatever environment and situation your horse is in, working with his mind to expand his knowl- Frozen fruit and vegetable edge is a great way of providing ice lollies can be placed around the environment enrichment. As trainers, we already to provide more foraging know that teaching via positive reinopportunities; here, Hero licks his ice carrot lolly forcement has many benefits. Horses on a hot day are a social species and, as discussed in Part One of this article, should – ideally – live in a group environment. Unfortunately, this is not possible for many, and the lack of social relationships can be a significant deficiency. Humans cannot ever replace the need for a horse to live with other horses, but we can develop a horse-human relationship that gives pleasure, and a sense of belonging and security to the horse. Teaching with positive reinforcement develops that horse-human relationship, it strengthens the bond and leads to feelings of affection, safety and contentment. This gives the horse a different social relationship than one he would have with another horse, but still provides fulfilling social interactions. Learning new skills engages the mind and the body and, again, these are fulfilling activities that the horse can learn to develop and satisfy his cognitive mind. The sense of doing things together and being part of the horse-human relationship is just as important for those horses that do live in a group environment. By domesticating and utilizing horses for human needs we have raised their cognitive abilities and the equine mind is able to learn, understand, and interpret a vast array of information. Horses are playful, inquisitive, problem solvers, whose mental welfare benefits greatly when they are engaged in mental and physical activities they enjoy. In some cases, a significant deficiency in stabled horses can be the lack of foraging opportunities, but there are many things that can be done to help manage this issue. Horses move around as they eat, so providing different foods in different places helps. Horses like a variety of foods such as carrot, apple, watermelon and swede; these can be cut up or left whole, depending on the


BARKS from the Guild/November 2017

horse and what is safe for him. There are also commercially prepared high fiber nuts and pellets that can be used. Hide these foods in hay nets, use a ball or trickle feeder. Hang carrots, turnips etc. on a string. Put a football in a munch net hung from the ceiling, and stick carrots in it to provide a food puzzle. Hang plastic milk bottles filled with nuts or pieces of fruit and vegetables. All these things should be hung at different heights to provide interest and different foraging opportunities. Provide forage at floor height by placing loose hay in different locations. Hide foods under and in the hay piles, along with replenishing these at periods during the stabled time so the horse has continuous foraging opportunities. Make frozen fruit and vegetable ice lollies by blending or chopping the food into pieces, and adding to a plastic tub of water. Once frozen, turn out of the tub and you have a horse-sized lollipop! If you freeze with a piece of string in the tub, you can also hang the lollipops. Horses like to use their teeth and feet to explore and investigate, so provide objects such as footballs and cones for play opportunities. Scratching posts can be made from old brooms, or logs covered in sisal rope and attached to a wall. Adding logs of applewood or willow provides chewing opportunities that are much nicer than the stable door. Whatever materials you use, make sure there are no additives that are poisonous to horses, as most horses will also explore these with their teeth.You can also take stabled horses out for in-hand sessions to walk and forage. Go where the horse has the option to browse from hedgerows, graze, and engage in sniffing opportunities. Use in-hand sessions for teaching tricks and practicing movements too. Although horses that are not confined to stables may have a lifestyle that meets more of their needs, often they are still in a relatively small area that does not provide as many opportunities as if they were in a very large, more natural environment. All the above ideas for stabled horses can also be used for those that are out in fields. For example, hay nets can be placed along a track or in different areas of a field. Hang things on trees rather than in stables. Scratching posts can be made out of old tree trunks, tires or anything that can be covered with a suitable scratching surface and placed in the field. Being outside, there is more scope for different objects, things such as wind socks and other objects that can move about in the wind. When supervised, horses may play by throwing old feed bags or tarpaulins around. Every so often rotate or move objects on the ground and tie them up to new locations. Have a look at the outside area. Can you plan to add trees, slopes, and water stations to make the environment more interesting? Trees and Photo: Alizé Veillard-Muckensturm


Photo: AlizĂŠ Veillard-Muckensturm

shrubs can Trees and shrubs can provide provide shel- shelter as well as browsing ter as well as opportunities browsing opportunities. If your horse is in livery, take the time to look around for the right solution for both of you. There are the obvious constraints and lack of opportunities in this situation, but if you look at your horse’s personality, likes and dislikes, you can choose an establishment whose set-up and management practice fits best for him, with enrichment to further improve his lifestyle. There are also opportunities to keep your horse in a more natural way, in a group, but some horses suffer terribly from bullying if they are in a group that does not work for them, so be aware. It is easy to think a livery situation is the worst option for a horse; however, the type of group, the area the horses live in and how the group is managed all have an impact. There are pros and cons with every situation, and whilst it would be the aim for every horse to live as nature intended, this is not possible. Therefore, understanding your horse, his individual personality and how he copes with the effects of his living environment is essential to him leading as happy a life as possible. There are many more ideas that you can get by talking to people and finding out how they provide enrichment for their horses. The most important point to remember is that you

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should tailor what you do to your horse and his individual preferences. Provide food that your horse likes and fits in with any specific nutritional needs. Be careful, too, with objects if your horse is prone to eating anything he gets his teeth into. And if he has feet that always seem to get caught up, be careful as to what ground objects you provide. If your horse is easily spooked by movement, then windsocks are not for him. Ultimately, whatever you provide needs to be both safe and enriching for him. n


Gregory, K. (2017, September). Maintaining Homeostasis. BARKS from the Guild (26) 52-54. Retrieved September 6, 2017, from

Kathie Gregory is a qualified animal behavior consultant, presenter and author who specializes in advanced cognition and emotional intelligence. Passionate about raising standards and awareness in how we teach and work with animals, she has developed Freewill TeachingTM,, a concept that provides the framework for animals to enjoy life without compromising their own free will. Her time is divided between working with clients, mentoring, and writing. Her first book, A Tale of Two Horses: a passion for free-will teaching, was published in 2015, and she is currently writing her second book about bringing up a puppy using freewill teaching.

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BARKS from the Guild/November 2017



What’s in It for the Horse?

In Part One of this three-part article, Max Easey explains how positive reinforcement


techniques, already prolific in the world of dog training, can be applied just as easily to horses

© Can Stock Photo/Virgonira

he first thing to be aware of when considering how horses learn is that all animals – without exception – will choose to repeat any behavior that “works” for them. When we own an animal like a pony or horse, an animal that we are going to handle or ride, it is essential to train them for safety reasons. The purpose of training a horse is to teach him cues for the behaviors we want him to be able to do. The end goal is for us to have a way to communicate what we want him to do, and to motivate him to want to do it. Some of these behaviors will be needed for everyday handling – like coming when called, standing still, haltering and leading, walking, coming to a halt, backing up, turning, or picking up feet. We will also want to train additional behaviors if we intend to be riding or driving. Like any animal, horses will repeat behaviors While there are many different behaviors we that are successful in getting them what they might want our horses or ponies to do in response to want, a natural way of learning that trainers can implement to create a force-free learning environment a cue or aid, there are, surprisingly, only two reasons why a horse will repeat any behavior we are trying to train. Both put effort into escaping or avoiding unpleasant or feared things. For example, in traditional or natural horsemanship methods of come down to the same thing – how the horse perceives the training, an instructor may tell us that if we are going to use the consequence of his behavior. reins to ask the horse to stop, we should apply them until the #1:The Horse or Pony Escaped or Avoided Something He horse comes to a halt and then immediately allow them to go Did Not Like as a Consequence of that Behavior loose. When a horse experiences an unpleasant physical sensation or The discomfort caused by the rein being applied will cause emotion, he will always try to do something to make it stop, if he the horse to want to escape that sensation, and if his halting rebelieves he can. When a horse feels frightened or frustrated, or sults in an end to that feeling, then he will repeat that behavior in when he is in (or anticipating) pain, discomfort or irritation, he the future when the rein is applied. This is why it is important to will try to do something to escape or avoid it – just as we do. If release the rein for a correct response – because the horse will the behavior he chooses “works” – even for a moment – he is value that release and reduction in the discomfort in his mouth going to do it again in the same or similar circumstances. or on his nose (if you are riding bitless). Swishing flies away with their tail or scratching their sweetIf, however, we squeeze with our leg and then tap a reluctant itchy mane on a gate are examples of behaviors horses perform horse with a whip to make him go forward, (for example, if he is to relieve themselves from irritation or discomfort. Another is hesitant to walk through a puddle or does not want to leave the turning their back to the rain. When a horse spooks, he is trying yard), while also perhaps using the reins to prevent him from to move himself quickly away from something he perceives as a turning away, he might rear instead of going forward. When we threat. These are examples of how horses take action to make momentarily stop tapping with the whip or kicking or squeezing things they dislike or fear go away, or what they do to try to eswith our leg in this situation, and the reins go loose as we push cape or avoid them. Even though flies land again as soon as they our hands forward to avoid falling off, the horse is learning to rehave been swished away, you will see horses continue to swish peat that behavior of rearing in future similar situations – betheir tail or shake their head to get them off. That part is imporcause it worked for him. He both avoided having to go forward tant – that momentary relief from the flies – because it explains into the water or away from home, and the leg and whip and a lot of other behavior we see from horses when something unrein all came off when he reared. He will be likely to repeat any pleasant momentarily stops. behavior that worked for him, both to escape the unpleasant When it comes to handling or riding a horse, there are many feeling of the whip or bit, and to avoid doing something he fears, techniques that rely on this desire, intrinsic to any creature to even if the removal of those unpleasant feelings was only for an 48

BARKS from the Guild/November 2017


© Can Stock Photo/Elenathewise

instant. If we actually fall off, If a horse is so eager to be let out of his some grass or hay or to be with stable he paws at the ground and ends friends, he can get frustrated then the horse’s relief from up kicking the door, this is a behavior those feelings of being pushed that can be quickly reinforced if it waiting for that to happen. gets the desired consequence into doing something he does Horses and ponies will often not want to do can last even paw the ground or wave a front longer and he will have even leg when frustrated and anticigreater reason to repeat those pating food (or wanting freeactions. dom). This leg action is a sign of Of course, this is not how I stress, but can result in the horse recommend getting a horse to hitting a stable door with his walk through water or leave the foot or knee. If someone apyard – so please don’t do any of proaches his door when this those things! There are better happens – to shout at him to and more effective ways to stop kicking the door, to bring teach horses that do not rethe food, or to halter him to take quire any kind of force or rehim out, this can cause him to straint. As any professional dog repeat the behavior of kneeing trainer will already know, the or kicking the door. Even if the technical term for this kind of person shouts at him, it can still learning – where the horse reinforce the behavior, and the learns to repeat things that led horse will keep doing it because to relief from something he finds he cares most of all that someunpleasant or frightening or painful – is negative reinforcement. one is approaching the door and might open it to let him out. It This happens when: only takes one occasion of someone going to the door of a sta- something unpleasant that is happening to the horse comes ble when the horse is kneeing or kicking the door, or to bring a to a stop as a consequence of his actions. horse food when he is kicking, for that behavior to be reinforced - the horse puts distance between himself and a feared or and then repeated. disliked thing or situation. It can be very hard to get a horse to stop doing behaviors - the actions of the horse cause unpleasant sensations to that are reinforced in this way, and that applies whether they are stop. behaviors we do or don’t want. If a horse begins to nudge or in- the horse is successful in getting something he does not like vestigate a person’s pockets for food he can smell, and the perto move away from him – by swishing it off or chasing it away. son gives him a treat for doing that, he will be sure to repeat it The important thing to remember is that this method of and to nudge harder next time if he does not get a treat. By the learning is happening all the time, whether we are aware of it or same token, if a horse turns his backside to you to be scratched not. Even more importantly, we need to remember that a horse and you scratch it for him, then he is likely to turn his backside or pony can learn to do both things that we want and things we to you again next time when he wants it scratched, even in a don’t want, when we use these methods in training or riding. In small space where you might get squashed. That is not the horse the first example, then, we might want the horse to stop when being “naughty” or “cheeky,” he is simply repeating the behavior we use the reins, but in the second example, instead of walking in you reinforced. the puddle, the horse reared. We definitely do not want the There are, however, excellent ways to take advantage of this horse to choose to repeat that particular behavior! natural way of learning, and we can intentionally train horses to do the behaviors we do want, or to learn to like things they previously feared, using food. This will be the focus of the second # 2:The Horse or Pony Obtains Something He Likes as a part of this article, which will discuss the application of forceConsequence of the Behavior When a horse expects to be able to get something he really likes free, positive reinforcement training, already common in the world of dog training, to horse training. n – such as carrots, grass, bucket feed, a lovely long massage or a scratch – he will always try to do something to make that hapMaxine Easey is an equine behavior consultant, horse trainer pen, if he believes he can. For example, when a horse knows that and people coach, based in Ashkirk, Scotland. She is the founder a person is making up feed, knows they are heading to the field of Horse Charming,, where she to get more grass, can smell treats in someone’s pocket, or see helps horse and pony owners and learners of all ages to underthey are wearing a treat bag, he will repeat any behavior that was stand and train their equine partners in ways that are enjoyable successful for him to get to the food in the past. If the behavior for them both. She has studied the science behind how all anihe chooses “works,”– even once – he is going to do it again in mals learn and is often asked to comment on different meththe same or similar circumstances. ods of training horses and ponies and what they involve from Here is another example: when a horse is expecting a mornthe perspective of the horse. ing feed, to be let out into the field after being confined, to get BARKS from the Guild/November 2017



A Language for All Species

Beth Napolitano relates the tale of what she learned from “talking” to a flying squirrel

© Can Stock Photo/EEI_Tony

ogs communicate with us in many nonverbal ways, as we all know. Some examples of this include using their body posture (are their tails wagging happily or tucked between their legs?) and eye contact (are they looking at you or turning their head away from you?). By reading our dogs’ body language we can determine, for instance, if they are feeling stressed, happy, relaxed, fearful, anxious, playful and much more. Understanding what our dogs are telling us can deepen our bond with them and result in a happy, more confident best friend. Learning to “speak dog” is easy once we know what to look for, and once we understand canine body language we can use it to determine consent. For example, ask your dog if he wants to have his nails clipped, and if he turns his head away from the visual presentation of the nail trimmer, that is a definite “no.” Recently, I found a baby southern flying squirrel that had fallen out of her nest. Sadly, her mom did not show up to reclaim her. That meant I would be standing in and taking on the role of surrogate mother. I was very surprised to learn that, where I am based in Central Florida, we are surrounded by secretive, nocturnal flying squirrels (think cute rodent secret society). Flying squirrels do not spend much time on the ground so human contact is rare. My particular baby flyer’s eyes were not open yet so I guessed her age to be about 3-4 weeks. I soon learned that her eyes would open in about a week or so. Based on my experience with dogs, I decided to use what I know about nonverbal communication on this helpless little squirrel. Initially, and not surprisingly, she spent a great deal of time sniffing my The baby flyer responded well to play but was able to hands, both of communicate to Napolitano them and every when she had had enough inch of them. While feeding her, I noticed she would tap her mouth with her right front foot if I wasn’t going fast enough. I needed time to refill the syringe and this baby was hungry! I found it fascinating that her signal is similar to the American Sign Language gesture for hunger. When she slowed down, I would continue 50

BARKS from the Guild/November 2017

Author Beth Napolitano’s baby southern flying squirrel responded to consent testing

© Can Stock Photo/EEI_Tony


through the implementation of consent testing during husbandry

to offer the syringe and sometimes she would turn her head away. That was a definite “no.” Again, I found it fascinating that humans also use a head shake to indicate no. Could it be that these human nonverbal signs originated in mammals prior to primates using them? Other times she would just back away, her sign for “I am full.” After the baby’s eyes opened, she offered great direct eye contact. However, if someone she didn’t know entered the room, she would freeze and stare straight ahead, avoiding eye contact with the approaching stranger. Freezing is a clear sign of stress, especially for a flight animal. I continued to implement more consent testing. When I put my hand in her cage I offered her the option to hop up and climb on instead of just picking her up. Every time I offered my hand she readily climbed on, after a stretch and a yawn. Once on my hand she would again stretch out, spread-eagled, with one little foot dangling off the side of my hand. I thought of this as her relaxation pose. She was letting me know she was comfortable with my handling techniques. Another consent test, a resounding “yes!” I continued to observe my new baby’s behavior during several daily play sessions to make sure she was feeling amenable and having fun. We took turns mock chasing each other, sometimes with my hand and other times with her personal small stuffed toy. If she hunched up her back and intermittently hopped around or chased my hand, I knew she was enjoying it. Usually play lasted a few minutes and I let her tell me when it was over. If

she stared or backed away, that was her way of saying “I am done now.” I tried to always listen carefully to what this little wild animal was telling me and as a result we developed an intense bond. I also learned flyers have to be released in a group for the best chance of success, so I found someone who is experienced with the species and already had a group that my little one could join. At about 7 weeks of age, then, I handed her over to the experienced flyer rescuer who sends me regular updates on her progress. The little squirrel is still very sweet, brave and bold. She loves to play hide and seek, zipping around and out of her cage as soon as the door opens. In fact, the rescuer says she is “10 times faster than any other flyer” she has rescued. I like to think that her sweet disposition, her love of play and her speed can be attributed – in part at least – to my having paid attention to all her nonverbal communication, which hopefully enabled her to feel safe and empowered. When she had something to say, I listened with my eyes and this resulted in a selfconfident little flying squirrel. Hopefully, this will ensure a successful release back to the life she was meant to have. If a wild animal can benefit from our heeding their nonverbal communication, just think what it can do for a domestic dog, a pet we have chosen to share our lives with. n Beth Napolitano has worked as a nurse for the last 40 years and is now pursuing a career as a professional dog trainer. She is currently enrolled in online classes with DogNostics Career College, in Tampa, Florida, and volunteers at Courteous Canine, Inc. DogSmith of Tampa, www.courteouscanine .com/Florida to gain practical experience.

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The Need for Self-Care

Sheelah Gullion discusses the importance of managing compassion fatigue and burnout in pet professionals

s pet professionals, many of us have pets with issues, be they behavioral or medical. Some of us got into the business because of a pet with issues. We wanted to learn how to succeed with that pet and then we wanted to share what we learned. But our industry seems to be unique in that we work largely alone, with little or no support to speak of, using our skills and our emotions, and though the focus is almost always on the pet (dog trainer, dog walker, etc), it is the human who is the client. Richmond, British Columbia-based pet care professional, Erin Moore started a dog walking business several years ago. As her business grew, she found it increasingly difficult to take time off. Her clients loved the convenience of boarding their dogs with her when they went out of town and as time went on, she found that she didn’t want to disappoint them so she put off her own needs. She didn’t want to lose clients, after all. Over time, however, the workload began to weigh on her. She was not having as much fun doing her work as she used to. She began to resent her work and sometimes even her clients. Then something surprising happened to her. “I had a bad case with a German shepherd dog and after, I cried for three days,” said Moore. “It was then that I realized, ‘I can’t continue like this.’ I had become angry and resentful. I didn’t like my job anymore.” Moore was experiencing compassion fatigue and burnout, but she only realized it when she experienced it so strongly that she could no longer convince herself that it was anything else. According to compassion fatigue expert Charles Figley, compassion fatigue is defined as a state experienced by those who help others in distress. It is an extreme state of tension and preoccupation with the suffering of those being helped to the degree that it is traumatizing for the helper. In the pet professional industry, when we think of compassion fatigue we may be inclined to think more often of those working in animal shelters and pet rescues. However, when renowned and respected veterinarian, applied animal behaviorist and author, Dr. Sophia Yin committed suicide in 2014, it sent a ripple through not only the veterinary field but into the wider pet industry as well. By contrast, burnout is something anyone in any industry can experience. It is generally considered to be caused by difficult or onerous working conditions and can be alleviated by an adjustment in those working conditions. In September 2017, PPG hosted a webinar on compassion fatigue presented by Vanessa Rohlf, a Melbourne, Australia-based consultant and educator specializing in compassion fatigue and stress management within the animal industry. She considers burnout to be a component of compassion fatigue in many cases. 52

BARKS from the Guild/November 2017

Compassion fatigue may be defined as a state experienced by those who help others in distress and is experienced by many who work with animals

© Can Stock Photo Inc./brozova

“The way I conceptualize compassion fatigue is that it consists of both burnout and secondary trauma,” said Rohlf. “Secondary trauma is the stress you get from helping those who are suffering. It is quite rapid in onset and the symptoms mimic those that are associated with PTSD. Burnout, on the other hand, refers to mental, physical and emotional exhaustion from being exposed to chronic workplace stressors. Both are relevant to animal care professionals.” Moore’s case is probably a good example. She was taking every client that came her way and even after a day of dog walking, she was often boarding dogs at her home as well, so had little time to herself. Rohlf was a veterinary nurse who felt the effects of compassion fatigue first-hand from dealing with sick and dying pets and the humans who felt powerless to care for them. She didn’t know there was a name for what she encountered but when she began researching it for a psychology degree, she discovered a population of people who were grateful for the attention being paid to their suffering. What surprised her most of all was that it was not only pet owners and veterinary staff but pet professionals as well. “Sometimes, as pet professionals, you may be required to help not just the suffering animal but the suffering owner as well,” said Rohlf. “For example, if you're working with a companion animal that is experiencing anxiety, it's quite likely that the owner who brought the animal in to see you is also quite distressed. Stress can be contagious, especially if there are cases that we really identify with.” When it comes to compassion fatigue within the pet industry, shelter and rescue staff and volunteers experience perhaps more than their fair share, and Portland, Maine-based Jessica Dolce is a perfect example of this.

Dolce was a dog walker for 15 years, worked full time in shelters, and started up a non-profit organization that provided resources to pit bull owners. Looking back, she admits that, at the time, she did not have the skills to manage the impact of the work. “I didn’t really understand what I was getting into,” said Dolce. “And I didn’t know how to manage it in a healthy way.” Once she figured it out, she made it her mission to help others. She got certified in compassion fatigue education and spent time studying, researching and training. Now, Dolce has her own business dealing exclusively in leading others onto the path of finding balance in the face of dealing with animals in need, whether those are dog owners, trainers or anyone else. She does this through online workshops and classes that support those who work with “challenging” dogs. She has worked with a lot of behaviorists and last year, co-wrote an article with Kristin Buller on the future of compassion fatigue education that appeared in the IAABC Journal. Chicago, Illinois-based Buller is a veterinary social worker and offers counseling and support groups for pet owners with special needs pets. Special needs can be defined as either medical or behavioral, and she readily acknowledges that many pet professionals are also owners of special needs pets. The nature of her work means that she is often involved in euthanasia cases. “A lot of compassion fatigue and stress for pet owners is when they really feel isolated,” said Buller. “I often hear from pet owners that they feel their family or friends are judging them. “I had one case where the family did have to euthanize their pet and then we had a family counseling session with the trainer. Neither of us [the trainer or I] could have done it alone. Together it was much easier.Validating their feelings, normalizing their feelings and supporting the emotions of all the family members.” Though Buller insists that they could not have done it alone, she likely means they could not have done it as well as they did if they had had to do it alone. Sharing the load is one of the ways that pet professionals can treat compassion fatigue, but it works for burnout as well. This is something Moore has now incorporated into her life now by getting to know a few trainers nearby who can take her classes or clients if the need should arise. She then offers to do the same for them. While burnout can be alleviated by a change in work conditions, it is not so simple with compassion fatigue.You can think of it like keeping in shape: it is about maintenance and knowing your limits.

The Importance of Self-Care

Self-care is the new buzzword for taking care of your mental health when you are a pet professional. However, experts agree that it is not only your mental health that is important. “What are the things you have to have in place in order to feel genuine and giving?” asked Buller. “The basics would be your body getting the sleep it needs, the nutrition it needs, and so on.” “Looking after yourself as an animal care professional is really important,” added Rohlf, who advocates slow deep belly breathing and mindfulness meditation.


For Moore, it was about making time for herself. She now does yoga and has made a return to veganism, but perhaps most importantly, she no longer takes every client that comes her way or says yes when an existing client asks for more than she is ready to give. “Saying no gets easier,” she said. “Finding a balance between helping where I can but not jeopardizing my mental health or my business for it.” According to Dolce, “Self-care is whatever you determine that you need, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually, and allowing yourself to have that. Self-care is not actually that complicated. The hard part is paying attention to ourselves and not judging ourselves for needing it or wanting it. Most of us have a sense of what we need and we deny it because we think it’s indulgent.” Buller agreed, but added: “If you’re doing helping work well, you’re going to be impacted by it. If people are able to be as self aware as they can be and have really good self-care, then that can buoy them through.” n It is common in the pet industry for individuals to work alone and feel isolated; support from peers and colleagues is vital to help share the load

© Can Stock Photo Inc./Kosobu

Sheelah Gullion CPDT-KA lives with a 3-year-old rescued Rhodesian ridgeback who has canine separation anxiety. She is an American Kennel Club Star Puppy and Canine Good Citizen evaluator and has just moved to California from Florida where she will soon be offering group classes and private lessons.

ng for L o o k i hi n g ? t Some PPG’s Check Archive! e Onlin The PPG Archive currently holds over 1,650 articles and is growing daily

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BARKS from the Guild/November 2017



Canine Professionals and Court Testimony

Daniel Antolec discusses the ways in which canine professionals may find themselves

required to give testimony, drawing upon experts in dog liability law, the insurance industry,


dog training and behavior, and his own experience giving testimony as a police officer

he purpose of this article is to help canine professionals become aware, to empower them and draw a blueprint that will help them cope successfully with the legal system. Kenneth M. Phillips practices law in Beverly Hills, California and takes cases throughout the United States, all of them involving injuries caused by dogs. In 2005, Phillips addressed The Biting Dog Conference in Novato, California with a presentation titled Avoiding Liability when you Train, Shelter or Adopt-out. Phillips graciously shared his insights for this article and addressed several areas of liability as follows: “In most states the owner of the dog is responsible if the dog bites a person.” (Author’s note:Wisconsin, for example, has such a law.) “Some states may hold you responsible if you had knowledge of the ‘dangerous propensity’ of a dog to injure a person.”

Dangerous Propensity

"Dangerous propensity could mean that the dog is a biter. It could also mean that the dog plays too hard, jumps up against people, knocks the legs out from under a person and injures them. The dangerous propensity law applies to anyone who has custody of the dog and who has knowledge there is this problem with the dog. They have a duty to do something about it.”

Negligence Liability

“You are responsible for your own negligence: a foreseeable accident that you could prevent with a reasonable measure. In other words, an unreasonable action that causes a foreseeable injury to somebody to whom you have a duty.”

Negligence per se

“There also is negligence based not on you doing something unreasonable, but doing something that violates a local law that has to do with public safety.Violating a leash law is called negligence per se.”

Contract Liability

“Contracts can create or limit liability.” (Author’s note: PPG founder, Niki Tudge, presented a free member webinar on Contract Management in January, 2017, which described how to effectively understand and use a business contract for your benefit.)

Discharge Report

“This is a report card to the owner telling them what occurred, 54

BARKS from the Guild/November 2017

Pet professionals may be called upon to testify in dog-related cases for a number of reasons and it is worth their while to be fully prepared

© Can Stock Photo/focalpoint

Owner Liability

what the dog’s behavior was, how the dog responded, what unresolved problem behaviors remain, and what to do about it in future. This protects you from claims that you hid anything from the owner or made other representations.”


“Saying something that is a misrepresentation, creating a false impression or concealing something. For example, failing to reveal the aggressive history of a dog.”

Actions of Employees or Agents

“An agent is someone who is doing something for you even if they are not an employee.You must ensure they do the right thing or you will be responsible under the law if something goes wrong and harm ensues.”

Creating False Expectations

“Overaggressive marketing of training services can result in liability based on false expectations about a trainer. If you hold yourself up to possess special expertise in an area, then you will be held to the same standard as an expert in that area. “I am thinking specifically of the term ‘behaviorist’ to describe a trainer. If you are not an accredited applied animal behaviorist

Guarantees or Promises

“The promise of a result is a bad thing. Any kind of explicit representation in advertising and contract is going to be enforced in favor of the client, never in favor of the professional. “False impressions that are created by implied promises and representations are also enforced by the courts. The law will call it a warranty, a representation or deceit, or may even call it fraud. The fact of the matter is you cannot promise a result in your contracts and in your advertising. “What you need to do is promise that you will render your service and that you will devote time, and that you will consult with the client.”

Giving Testimony

Pat Miller CBCC-KA CPDT-KA is a renowned expert with 20 years as an animal protection professional for which she testified in court cases, and 20 years as a dog training and behavior professional. I asked Miller to share her experience:

BARKS from the Guild: Under what circumstances may a canine professional give testimony?

Pat Miller: We could theoretically be sued, either by the dog’s owner or by the recipient of a dog’s undesirable behavior, as a result of the services we provide if a dog we worked with does something untoward. This could be aggression, and it could also be something as simple as jumping on someone, knocking them down and causing injury, or running in front of a car and causing an accident. We can be sued whether we are negligent or not. If we are negligent, we are more likely to find ourselves held legally accountable. Cases where we might be found legally liable include taking on cases beyond our level of education, training and expertise; giving advice outside our area of expertise (veterinary advice) and using tools and/or techniques that are not accepted by the industry. We could also be sued by another professional for making false or derogatory verbal or written statements (slander or libel) or for violating trainer/client confidentiality by making client information public. We could also be called upon to testify on behalf of a client we worked with, if they are being sued or are on the receiving end of an Animal Control action for something their dog has done. Alternatively (and more happily), we can offer expert witness services, whereby we present ourselves as having knowl-

edge beyond that of the ordinary lay person about dog behavior and training. This allows us to testify in cases where we are not actual witnesses to the actions of the dog or owner, but can speak to the science of behavior and training, and give opinions about the facts of the case.” BARKS: Under what circumstances have you testified?

PM: As a humane officer I testified in animal cruelty cases and animal control violation cases. As a dog training and behavior professional, I testified on behalf of an animal control agency that was being sued for their euthanasia practices, on behalf of dog owners whose dogs misbehaved, and on behalf of victims of dogs who acted aggressively. I have not, thank dog (and knock on wood), had to testify on my own behalf in lawsuits against me. BARKS: How did you prepare for testimony?

PM: Extensive reading and review of documents provided is critically important.You must be able to present yourself as wellprepared, whether testifying as party to a lawsuit or an expert witness. Do research on the issue so you can back your statements with facts outside your own opinion, and be able to cite and provide copies of any papers or studies that support your position. Document your sources. As an expert witness, you are likely to be asked to provide a written report/statement of what you are planning to testify to. Be diligent and professional in preparing that document, and know it well, as you will be speaking to it in court, and will need to defend challenges to and questions about it. BARKS: Have you advice for avoiding legal difficulties?

PM: Be professional at all times.

Professional Accreditation

David Pearsall CIC CWCA is vice president of Business Insurers of the Carolinas. He is licensed in all 50 states and his company insures nearly 9,000 pet service professionals nationwide. We spoke to him as follows: Theoretically, pet professionals

BARKS: What sort of liability claims do you see

BARKS from the Guild/November 2017

may be sued as a result of their services if a dog does “something untoward,” according to canine behavior expert, Pat Miller

© Can Stock Photo/HugoFelix

or a veterinarian who is board certified in animal behavior, my recommendation is do not use the term ‘behaviorist’ to describe what you do. “That word is developing a meaning that is filtering out to the community, but the real meaning is the one used in court. Whenever anybody holds themselves out to have special experience or training in a field they are required to perform just like those that have that special experience or training.” (See Transparency in Training and Behavior, PPG World Service, February 2017.)




in which testimony may be required?

David Pearsall: I have seen many cases over the last 22 years where trainers are deposed due to bodily injury and property damage claims. Often with insurance claims, there will be depositions, mediation, and settlements made to avoid going to court, due to costs involved, but we do have many injured parties who will fight until they get their day in court. BARKS: How important is it for a canine practitioner to hold professional accreditation?

DP: I believe education is the most valuable asset a canine practitioner can have, as the more knowledgeable a person is in their field, the better equipped they are to handle all the various things that can occur while performing their work. BARKS: What is your advice to avoid legal difficulties?

DP: Set up as an LLC or corporation, have signed contracts with all clients including hold harmless wording in the contract, and be certain to have the contract signed before performing any services. Carry a liability insurance policy to cover all third party bodily injury and property damage claims, and a workers compensation policy to cover on-the-job injury claims. BARKS: What other advice or recommendations would you give to pet professionals?

DP: Always do the right thing. There is no substitute for honesty. Sometimes things happen to you in business, but if you are honest about the facts, you are professional, and have taken the time to set your business up correctly and not taken shortcuts, you will find that everything will be okay. Sometimes claims and lawsuits may go on for three-four years, so don’t panic when you see a letter requesting $1,000,000 from you/your business. Often claims are settled for much less than a demand letter, and if you have insurance coverage in place your company must defend you, and that defense is typically outside the limit of liability on your policy, so always turn a claim in so the insurance company attorneys can defend you from day one.

How to Prepare for Testimony

During my police career I testified in civil, municipal, state and federal courts. To prepare, I followed a simple plan, now adapted to my canine profession: 1. Know your stuff. Learn your craft from those who know more than you through continuing education: seminars, webinars, studying books and DVDs.


We are always on the lookout for interesting features, member profiles, case studies and training tips to feature in BARKS from the Guild and BLOGS from the Guild. If you’d like to join the growing band of member contributors, please get in touch. 56

BARKS from the Guild/November 2017

2. Test your knowledge through formal accreditation. This confirms you know your stuff by objective measure. Steadily increase competence in the performance of your duties to clients and impress those in the legal system who are themselves licensed or credentialed. 3. Use professional business documents and have a local attorney review them to ensure they are legally enforceable. 4. Maintain detailed records of every session, with each client, using letters or email transcripts recording every communication. These records are the foundation upon which your testimony will be based, possibly years after the fact. 5. If you receive a subpoena, immediately consult an attorney and ask for advice regarding offering testimony, if the time comes.Your attorney cannot tell you what to say, but can coach you on how to be an effective witness. 6. Review educational materials and study client records. Prepare as if you were taking an accreditation exam. 7. Visit courtrooms, observe proceedings and make notes. Be familiar with the process and the location where you may testify. 8. Learn how an attorney is trained to cross-examine witnesses. I studied Questioning Techniques and Tactics by Jeffrey L. Kestler as a law school text. Based on this, I wrote 10 pages of concise notes which I then studied prior to testimony. The strategy of the opposing attorney is to destroy witnesses on the stand. This includes principles of cross-examination and witness control, psychological aspects of questioning strategy, importance of non-verbal communication, development of background information and more. The United States legal system is rather adversarial with rules of conduct and evidence. I see it as an opportunity to show the world I am competent in practice, competent in record keeping, and competent in oral recital.You can do the same. As Sun Tzu is credited with saying, “Know your enemy, know yourself, and in one-hundred battles you will avoid disaster.” n


Pet Professional Guild. (2017). Contract Management. Pet Professional Guild World Service. (2017, February). Transparency in Training and Behavior. Retrieved September 23, 2017, from Wisconsin Dog Bite Law:

Daniel H. Antolec CPT-A CPDT-KA is the owner of Happy Buddha Dog Training,, in Brooklyn, Wisconsin. He also chairs the Pet Professional Guild Advocacy Committee, /Advocacy-Resources.



Ask the Experts: The Challenges of Competition Veronica Boutelle of dog*tec responds to pet professionals’ questions on all things business and marketing

Q: I saw your last column about marketing, but it feels impossible and a waste of time. Half my clients pick the punishment-based trainer in my area first before coming to me to fix the damage. I get it about marketing, but I don’t see how I can possibly compete.They’ve got a marketing budget and department (they’re part of a big franchise). I’ve just got me. It feels impossible. I can’t be the only one in this situation? - Samantha P. A:You aren’t the only one in your situation, Samantha. We hear from and work with trainers all over the country – and the world – facing the same challenges. And you’re right – as a small, independent dog training company, you’re not going to match the budget and staffing of the “big boys.” The good news is you don’t have to. Here are some quick tips for competing without the benefit of a big budget and large staff: Update your marketing message. Make sure your website and marketing materials tell people you can help them. No behavior guarantees here, of course, but if you don’t tell people you can make their lives better or improve their dogs’ behavior, why should they hire you? Take a look at punishment trainers’ sites. They focus on how they’re going to help, while +R dog training sites tend to lecture potential clients about what they’re doing wrong or what their dogs need or what kind of training methodology they should be using. There will be time for all of this when you get the client. To get the client, you should be focusing on the benefits of your services to the client – the human one, not only the dog. Offer an easy button. Look at punishment trainers’ websites again. What do they say? They talk about making training easy. They offer to do it for their clients. Think about what you’re looking for when you hire a professional – certainly not to be taught how to do something yourself and be given homework. If we are to compete with traditional trainers, we need to stop telling clients they need to train their own dogs and, instead, begin offering to do what they’ve hired us to do – train their dogs. Offer day training services and, if you can, board and train, too. Confront guarantees. Include a section on your website – your About page is a good spot, or you can even dedicate a separate page – that educates potential clients about the lack of regulation in our industry and what that means when choosing a dog trainer. Let them know that professional organizations, like PPG, do not offer any guarantees about dog behavior, and explain why such guarantees are considered unethical. Then tell your readers what you do guarantee – great customer service, a customized approach to reaching their goals, a commitment to ongoing professional education, etc. Raise your prices. Most likely the punishment trainer your clients are choosing first is more expensive than you are. That is part of why your clients choose him or her first. People looking for the best professional service provider – whether lawyer, accountant, or dog trainer – will assume the more expensive pros

are better at what they do. Pricing yourself too low will get you passed over. Up your image. Take a good look at your logo, website, and marketing materials. If they are not looking as polished and professional as they could, it’s time for a makeover. Hiring a professional writer and designer is well worth the cost, as potential clients are likely to move on if you don’t look the part. Get in front of people first. The big companies may have bigger marketing budgets, but you have bigger expertise. Use it to fuel your marketing. Write articles or columns for local papers, distribute a printed newsletter, create How To handouts to share with vets, pet supply stores, and other dog-related businesses, give talks to benefit the local shelter, offer lunch-&-learn programs to local vet clinics, or reach out to the local media to offer your expertise for animal-related stories. In short, use your knowledge to position yourself as the go-to training expert in your area. No marketing budget can compete with that. All our best to you and your business, Samantha! n Have a question for the business experts at dog*tec? Submit your question for consideration to Learn how

can help your business:

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


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

Topics may include a particular aspect of training, ethology, learning theory, behavior specifics...anything at all your fellow pet professionals would find educational. We’ll even do some practice runs with you to help you along (if you need them!) BARKS from the Guild/November 2017



Learning through Experience

In the second part of this two-part article, Niki Tudge continues the discussion on training effectively connect knowledge with skills

he first part of this article (see Training What and When, BARKS from the Guild, September 2017, pp. 56-57) deliberated on the concept of training as a practical application based on learning by doing, and teaching as a more theoretically oriented practice. While their respective goals may be different, the two are by no means mutually exclusive. In fact, I conclude that training is a subset of teaching. The table below highlights some of the topics that we, within our scope as trainers, will touch on when teaching employees. It differentiates between topics that require skill training or hands-on competency, and those that require teaching or the transfer of knowledge. I think it is fair to say most of these teaching activities would be best taught alongside compatible skill training exercises.

The Model

A learning theory is a framework in which skills and knowledge are processed during the learning experience. To be effective as trainers we need to acquire the necessary people training and teaching skills. First, though, we must determine which learning theory model and process is most relevant to our application. Since their inception, career and technical colleges have embraced experiential learning as the methodology of choice. Educational institutes such as these focus on preparing students with technical skills that will appeal to potential employers. Kolb (2015, p.1) states that: “judged by the standards of construct validity, Experiential Learning Theory has been widely accepted as a useful framework for…lifelong learning.” I believe the experiential learning model is most relevant to our learning theory application of teaching, and there are two contexts within the process that I believe apply and integrate perfectly into our

Training versus Knowledge Teaching

Examples of Skill Training

To train = to form by instruction, to make prepared for a skill.   

How to transfer a client call. How to invoice a client. How to use the company email.

Examples of Knowledge Teaching

To teach = to cause to know something, to guide the studies, impart the knowledge, to instruct.    58

Company orientation. Fire policy. Uniform standard. BARKS from the Guild/November 2017

Experiential learning is an adult-centric learning process where students develop skills and knowledge from direct experiences

© Can Stock Photo/damedeeso


and teaching, and how training professionals can help employees and students

roles as organizational trainers. • The first is where students are given the opportunity to learn by applying knowledge and skills in a germane setting that is closely aligned to where the real application of learned knowledge and skills will take place. This direct encounter requires the student’s active engagement to learn the skill. • The second context involves applying the knowledge and improved skills acquired, based on the student’s reflections from direct participation and direct encounters during everyday, real-life settings. To explain more succinctly: • Context one represents the formal training environment one provides through workplace training sessions. • Context two represents the everyday management and coaching of employees in their workplace.

“I hear and I forget, I see and I remember, I do and I understand.” – Confucius

Much of my motivation for experiential learning stems from a negative opinion of training which is overly informative, trainer regulated, and involves a discipline-controlled delivery of new skills and knowledge. Experiential learning is an adult-centric learning process where students develop skills and knowledge from direct experiences rather than in traditional classrooms or academic settings. In trainer speak, this means no more lectures or one-way training traffic. As training professionals, we need to look at and be prepared to change how we deliver the necessary information to our employees, whether it is for the teaching of new skills or the active engagement of differing philosophies and methods. Experiencing something is an osmosis of action and thought, the bridge that connects an employee

“Tell me and I forget, teach me and I remember, involve me and I will learn.” – Benjamin Franklin

to the object they are interacting with. When we experience something, we do not separate the action from the end result. Each complements the other on a loop system. Research proposes that anyone in a training or teaching role tends to implement whichever method they were taught. This means that, in the absence of a training certification program that focuses on teaching skills rather than just the transfer of knowledge, if most of an individual’s learning experience was lecture-based, then that probably forms the foundation of how that individual now teaches their students (Wolvin, 1983). Lecturing students is regarded as an easy and convenient method of teaching. It is a constructive model for communicating conceptual knowledge, particularly when there is a significant knowledge gap between the teacher and the students, and when there is a large audience. During lectures the teacher only has to focus on covering his or her program content and not on whether the student is actually learning anything or not. This type of teaching has been in play for over 800 years and remains a traditional method for many universities. Lecturing was, of course, the teaching method of choice and even necessity prior to the development of the first textbooks. As a convenient concept, lecturing is entrenched into our system of knowledge dissemination. As we already know though, convenient is not always the most effective option. Studies discussed by Wolvin (1983) showed that a student’s attention and focus wane after just 10 minutes during lectures and presentations. Thus, when a teacher exposes students to high-level lectures over sustained periods of time, it can undermine the student’s ability to differentiate between what is truly salient versus what is not. This is

“There is an intimate and necessary relation between the process of actual experience and education.” – John Dewey


similar to the so-called redundancy effect identified by cognitive overload researchers. One study showed that, when questioned halfway through a lecture, 55 percent of students said that their minds had wandered (Wolvin, 1983). In many cases, experiential learning is self-explanatory. The student has to be directly involved in the learning experience and not just at the receiving end of a lecture or presentation. I cannot imagine how we could teach and train employees to do their jobs without them being extremely involved in the process. I am sure Founding Father Benjamin Franklin had experiential learning on his mind when he wrote: “Tell me and I forget, teach me and I remember, involve me and I will learn.” n


Kolb, D. A. (2015). Experiential Leaning. 2nd edn. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education Inc. Wolvin, A.D. (1983). Improving Listening Skills. In Improving Speaking and Listening Skills. New Directions for College Learning Assistance, ed. Rubin, R. B., vol. 12. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass, Inc.


Tudge, N. (2017, September). Training What and When. BARKS from the Guild (26) 56-57. Retrieved September 7, 2017 from

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.


If you are an applicant in the system and on the road to accreditation, PPAB is here to help you be successful! THERE ARE A NUMBER OF TOOLS AT YOUR DISPOSAL: s The Examination Study Guide: s The Case Study Template: s The Facebook Applicant Support Group - To join, email: s ABA Dictionary: BARKS from the Guild/November 2017




Keeping Dogs in Homes

In our ongoing series of PPG member profiles, this month BARKS features Jane Bowers of Dogs of Distinction Canine Training in Vancouver, British Columbia

ane Bowers has always loved animals and got into dog training when she was given an adult German shepherd who was very reactive toward unfamiliar people and unfamiliar dogs. She tried several trainers in an effort to help, but was very discouraged when they wanted to punish the dog for her reactive behavior. Bowers thus kept looking until she found a European trainer who did not use force and was able to help.

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

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

Jane Bowers decided on a career as a dog trainer after becoming disillusioned with the number of trainers she consulted who wanted to punish her reactive German shepherd’s behavior

A: I learned tracking and sheep herding with my first dog and from then on was hooked on training and behavior. I attended everything I could to learn more. People started to ask me for help with their dogs and that evolved into me starting my business. I have been teaching people and training dogs for over three decades. I like to write about animals and have a monthly newspaper column on dog related topics and write for online publishers. I was also the host of a live call-in TV show on animals, and taught in a professional dog walking program at a local college. I have a degree in psychology and, in addition to being a professional member of the Pet Professional Guild, I am certified as a dog trainer through the Certification Council of Professional Pet Dog Trainers and as a behavior consultant for dogs and cats through both the International Association of Behavior Consultants and the Association of Animal Behavior Professionals. I have a background in law enforcement and felt that police officers could use more resources in learning about dog behavior for the safety of both dogs and officers, so I collaborated with a course designer and created an online course called Assessing and Interpreting Dog Behaviour. It is an online course, hosted by the Canadian Police Knowledge Network, for law enforcement personnel and others who meet unfamiliar dogs in the course of their duties. I am also the author of Perfect Puppy Parenting, a guide to raising a happy, confident, well-behaved dog. After a career in federal law enforcement, I spent a further eight years working as an animal control officer and bylaw enforcement officer for large and small municipalities. Now, I am learning agility with my dogs. I teach training and do private consultations with clients and I write articles and courses. 60

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A: I have several dogs who either came through a rescue organization or had issues that prevented them from living in their original homes. The dogs range in size and age and assist with my dog training and behavioral work, whether it is participating in a video, working with a client’s dog, tracking a lost pet or animal, or protecting animals on the farm. I also have chickens, donkeys and sheep. Q: Who has most influenced your career and how?

A: I have been lucky enough to learn from many great trainers and behavior professionals but I think Dr. Ian Dunbar has been the most influential. When I began, the "dominance" theory was very popular and it was so refreshing to be able to attend Dunbar's training workshops and hear him speak about reward training. I learned a lot from him and appreciated the engaging way he presented material. I have enormous respect for the good he has done for the dog training world. Q: Why did you become a dog trainer or pet care provider?

A: I became a trainer because I had learned so much through working with my dogs, my jobs at veterinary hospitals, attending educational opportunities and volunteering at shelters that I wanted to share it with other people.

Q: What do you consider to be your area of expertise? A: Behavior and tracking/trailing.

Q: Are you a crossover trainer or have you always been a force-free trainer? A: I have always been force-free. I was really disheartened by the trainers who wanted to "correct" my German shepherd's behavior rather than understand why she behaved the way she did. Q: What drives you to be a force-free professional and why is it important to you?

A: It is important to me that animals are treated with respect and that we learn all we can about their behavior so that we can

gently help them work through fear and anxiety. I am very glad to see more scientific reports being published on how reward training works quickly for the animal without the aggression that has been associated with force training or the use of aversive equipment and methods. Q: What are some of your favorite positive reinforcement techniques for the most commonly encountered client-dog problems?

A: Teaching people that the relationship is a partnership and helping people understand why their dog is behaving in a certain way. My favorite techniques are the clicker, luring and showing people how to provide their dog with simple but mentally challenging activities to help change behavior. Q:What is the favorite part of your job?

A: Keeping dogs in their homes by helping people understand the root of the behavior and showing them how to change things with their dog. Q: What awards or competition placements have you and your dog(s) achieved using force-free methods?

A: I don't generally compete with my dogs, though we are training for agility and herding. The successes that mean the most to me are when a dog overcomes anxiety through reward training


and goes from being reactive and a bite risk to a dog who is calm and reliable. Several of my dogs now help other dogs with reactivity issues. Q: What reward do you get out of a day's training?

A: I love to see and hear how well a dog and client are doing.

Q: What advice would you give to a new trainer starting out? A: Join professional organizations, learn everything you can, refer cases to more experienced force-free trainers if appropriate, and train one's own dog so that he or she a good example of what force-free training can accomplish. Q: How has PPG helped you to become a more complete trainer?

A: PPG offers great educational opportunities like webinars and online courses that give trainers an opportunity to add to their education and provide new activities for clients and their dogs. PPG also provides members with savings on resources that help trainers. I like being part of an organization that has standards for force-free trainers. n Dogs of Distinction Canine Training,, is located in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada To be featured in the BARKS Profile section, complete this form:

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An Ounce of Empathy

Breanna Norris reviews The Education of Will: A Mutual Memoir of a Woman and Her Dog


by Patricia B. McConnell

brought the hardcover copy of The Education of Will on a trip, knowing very well that I typically get a few pages into a book on a plane before I quickly fall asleep. This reaction may be caused by the hum of the plane or perhaps that, a while back, I went through a spell of trying to train myself to nap on planes. It may have worked a little too well though as now I cannot stay awake! Thinking this would be the case once more, I picked up McConnell’s book, but found that even as my eyes dried out from stale plane air, I just could not stop reading. And indeed, it did not take long for her writing to begin creating a “mist” in my eyes so I could continue reading even in the dry atmosphere. McConnell’s book The Other End of the Leash (2003) was pivotal in my dog training career, as I know it has been for many others. Many authors have tried to capture the same essence that McConnell seems to capture so easily, but fail to find it. Her books are always the ones I reach for when people, whether trainer or interested owner, ask me for a recommendation. The content of The Other End of the Leash is so thoughtful and educational I was not sure how McConnell could actually have another bestseller in her, but, of course, she did. Once again she found her voice in The Education of Will, and what a beautiful voice it is. The book is a memoir, the subject of which is riveting and written like pure poetry. Easy to read and hard to put down, McConnell weaves the story of her own traumatic past with her dog Will’s own background. This forges a strength and understanding, whereby McConnell takes a story of grief and turns it into something powerful through both science and compassion. “I quickly learned what every good trainer and behaviorist knows: Dogs have a silent voice that is easy to hear, but most people don’t know how to listen,” McConnell writes. “Dog owners often need a translator, no matter how much they love their dogs. Teaching them how to communicate with their dogs was my primary responsibility. Though understanding what a dog is trying to tell you is not rocket science, it seems to not be intuitive either. Mostly, you listen with your eyes.” In this work, McConnell has achieved something that I think many struggle with: finding a balance of education and empathy, science and 62

BARKS from the Guild/November 2017

passion. She blends them together so closely, managing to take the puzzle pieces that make up science and humanity and blend them into one. As such, McConnell stands among giants like Jane Goodall, a scientist who works with empathy and the highest ethical standards. The Education of Will should be read by trainers, behaviorists and anyone who works with animals, and it should be read by anyone interested in any kind of animal studies, or anyone who would find inspiration in an amazing women’s journey of self, compassion and science. Fair warning here, the book may make you a little misty-eyed or – more likely – cause you to weep. Be prepared. I was not, so when the engineer sitting next to me on the flight to Boston asked what the book was about and I simply replied, “An animal behaviorist’s memoir,” she looked at me as if to say, “Why would that make you cry?” When I started the book, I had not been prepared to learn so much detail about McConnell’s work. It is truly a warm and incredibly honest book. If we all could get an ounce of McConnell’s empathy, the world and its resident animals and humans would be much the better for it. It is the best book I have read in 2017 and one I will be recommending to many people. n

The Education of Will: A Mutual Memoir of a Woman and Her Dog Patricia B. McConnell (2017) 270 pages Atria Books ISBN: 978-1-5011

Choose Your Adventure

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

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

Essential information for all professional trainers and behavior consultants.

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