BARKS from the Guild September 2017

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BARKS from the Guild

Issue No. 26 / September 2017

TRAINING The Benefits of Scentwork

BEHAVIOR Curiosity as Reinforcement

CANINE The Impact of Pain on Behavior

INTERVIEW Prof. Paul McGreevy on Citizen Science EQUINE The Importance of Homeostasis

FELINE The Role of Play in a Cat’s Well-Being CONSULTING Talking Aversives with Clients

The Human Factor:

Common Misconceptions about Counterconditioning Leash Reactive Dogs 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, Rebekah King, 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 article/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

ife is unpredictable and, even for the most calm, confident dog, there are times when walking on a leash can be stressful or challenging. Some dogs do very well with a vast variety of environmental stressors and triggers; others not so much. Regardless, becoming proficient at counterconditioning a dog on leash is a useful protocol for both pet professionals and dog owners. This means putting the effort into mastering the timing, the mechanics, and a general awareness of both the environment and the dog’s emotional state at any given moment. Our Cover Story this month suggests that counterconditioning a dog on leash to experience less stress and stay under threshold is an achievable goal for just about anyone. This is not to say the dog will never be fearful or react on leash: Although major gains can be made and tremendous reductions in fear achieved, one day, when the conditions are all lined up, they may well still go against all the dog and owner’s hard work. This is normal and a part of life. Our feature focuses on the process rather than the results, which should come of their own accord if everything else is methodically put into place first. It also highlights many of the common misconceptions surrounding the process of counterconditioning leash reactivity with a specific focus on the human factor. Definitely food for thought. Elsewhere, we feature the benefits of scentwork for deaf dogs, wonder if they are better at the sport than other dogs, and explore the best training techniques. We have a report from London-based dog trainer Kamal Fernandez’s workshop at PPG headquarters in Tampa, Florida earlier this year, which highlights the benefits of using games as part of the learning process in dog training, and also review interactive feeding toy, CleverPet. Our Canine section, meanwhile, features a short interview with PPG Australia special counsel, Prof. Paul McGreevy, about initiatives he and his team have introduced to encourage pet owners to become more involved in their pet’s care while, at the same time, contributing a host of data for canine research scientists to dissect. In our previous issue, the Feline section featured an article on how good cats are at living with and hiding chronic pain, and the impact this can have on their behavior. This month, we relate the tale of one dog who loved agility so much he managed to successfully mask his injury for a long time, and the difference in his behavior once the injury was diagnosed and treated. Our Pet Care section has more on setting up the environment at day care and boarding facilities for safe group play sessions, while our Behavior section features a fascinating article on how to evoke an animal’s natural curiosity and then use it as a reinforcer. For the feline aficionados, this month we look into the importance of play for a cat’s physical, mental and general overall well-being, while our Equine section focuses on the importance of maintaining homeostasis as a foundation for providing enrichment. We also have an interesting Consulting and Business section this month, with articles on the sensitive topic of how to talk aversives with clients, the distinction between training and teaching, and how to successfully market your services. As if that’s not enough, we also feature in-depth coverage of PPG British Isles’ activities in London, England and Edinburgh, Scotland in June, and check out the News pages too for a host of PPG special summit offers. We hope to see you in Tampa in November!

n Susan Nilso

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NEWS PPGA, PPG Summit 2017 special offers, business consults, and new sponsors, PPG 2018 Behavior & Training Workshop, PPG Archive, PPG Radio, webinars, Project Trade TRIBUTE Friends and colleagues remember PPG founding member Anne Springer PPGBI HOSTS EDUCATIONAL EVENT Susan Nilson reports from the PPGBI’s June meet-up in Edinburgh PPGBI ATTENDS VICTORIA STILWELL DOG BITE PREVENTION CONFERENCE Susan Nilson reports on PPG president Niki Tudge’s presentation at annual Stilwell event, and PPGBI’s attendance as a vendor OPEN LETTER TO PET INDUSTRY PROFESSIONALS PPG addresses the use of shock in animal training THE HUMAN FACTOR Drayton Michaels discusses some of the common misconceptions about counterconditioning leash reactive dogs BUILDING COOPERATION AND COMMUNICATION Morag Heirs wonders whether deaf dogs have a better sense of smell and discusses the benefits of scentwork TRAINING GAMES Eileen Gillan reports on PPG’s workshop in Tampa, Florida with Kamal Fernandez, and how to use games to train dogs faster THE CHALLENGE THAT KEEPS ON GIVING Marie Macher tries out CleverPet, an interactive feeding game CALLING ON CITIZEN SCIENTISTS BARKS speaks with PPG special counsel Prof. Paul McGreevy about research app doglogbook and the science of dogmanship THE PROBLEM WITH PAIN Angelica Steinker details her border collie’s iliopsoas injury and the impact it had on his behavior THE LOW-DOWN ON GROUP PLAY Lauri Bowen-Vaccare sets out an assessment protocol for group play sessions in boarding and day care facilities CURIOUSLY REINFORCING Lara Joseph draws on her experience training exotics to use curiosity as a reinforcer HOW CATS PLAY Beth Adelman explains why playing games with your cat is important for physical and mental health, and overall well-being MAINTAINING HOMEOSTASIS Kathie Gregory looks at horses’ basic needs as a foundation for providing enrichment ASK THE EXPERTS: BUT I HATE MARKETING! Veronica Boutelle of dog*tec responds to business and marketing questions TRAINING WHAT AND WHEN Niki Tudge discusses the process of learning, and points out an important distinction between training and teaching AN IMPORTANT CONVERSATION Sheelah Gullion discusses how to keep emotions in check when talking aversives with clients PROFILE: THE KEY IS EDUCATION Featuring Rachel Lane of Leash and Learn in New York, New York COMPLETING THE PUZZLE Breanna Norris reviews ‘Get Coaching Now! The How,What and Why of Effective Pet Industry Client Consultations and Skill Training Sessions’ by Niki Tudge

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Photo: Rachel Watkins Photography



PPG Summit 2017: Schedule an On-Site Business Consult with dog*tec


t PPG’s 2017 annual summit in Orlando, Florida from November 16-20, dog*tec business coaches will be on hand for one-on-one in-person sit downs. If you have ever thought about taking advantage of dog*tec’s friendly, individualized consulting, this is a great chance to give it a try. Get some advice about how to start your dream business, or a little help with the business you already have. Wish you had more clients or students? Wondering how to raise your rates without risk? Need some support solving a pesky problem? A chat with dog*tec is just the thing. There are a limited number of consults and they will be pre-scheduled on a first come, first served basis, so learn more and sign up for your spot now at!

Individual session descriptions for PPG Summit 2017 are now available! See:

PPG Summit 2017: Doggone Safe Signs up as Major Sponsor


oggone Safe, an independent non-profit organization specializing in educational initiatives for the purpose of dog bite prevention, has signed up to be a sponsor at the Pet Professional Guild’s (PPG) annual educational summit, taking place this year in Orlando, Florida from November 16-20. As a result, Doggone Safe is able to offer a limited number of greatly discounted PPG summit packages to its members on a strictly first come, first served basis. Following its highly successful participation in the Victoria Stilwell UK Dog Bite Prevention & Behaviour Conference in London, England last month, Doggone Safe is now looking to further its mission by sponsoring educational events to help promote dog bite safety and views the PPG summit as the ideal way to get started. Through its sponsorship of the official event Tshirt, Doggone Safe has negotiated a deal that enables it to offer a total of 10 PPG summit tickets to its members at discounts reaching almost 30 percent, meaning savings of up to $400 off the regular cost of a standard Great Dane summit package. Still greater savings can be achieved by sharing a room at the official event hotel, the Sheraton Lake Buena Vista Resort in Orlando. Successful applicants will be entitled to a Doggone Safe sponsored package, whereby, over the next four months, they will pay just $261 per month for single occupancy or $195 per month for double occupancy. This rate includes summit attendance for all three and a half days’ educational presentations by 27 internationally renowned experts in the fields of animal behavior and training, four nights in a deluxe hotel room (November 16-19, 2017), the official event T-shirt, arrival drinks and fun lei, SWAG bag full of giveaways, morning and afternoon refreshments, sundae bar, breakfast and lunch on November 17- 19, breakfast on November 20, summit gala dinner on November 18, and unlim6

BARKS from the Guild/September 2017

ited working labs. For those who wish to arrive early, or stay late, Doggone Safe is able to offer the same PPG special room rates three days either side of the event. The offer is only available to Doggone Safe members, who will need to provide their membership number in order to register. Since its inception, Doggone Safe presenters have educated over 1 million children in more than 30 countries about how to stay safe around a dog. Hundreds of thousands more people have been reached and influenced through the organization’s educational materials and social media campaigns, and its Be a Tree program that teaches school-age children a simple but effective way to behave if ever they feel threatened or uncomfortable with a dog, as well as how to read dog body language so they can stay safe around both their own and unfamiliar dogs. “We believe that education and knowledge are the absolute key to helping keep future generations safe,” said Doggone Safe president, Niki Tudge. “The PPG summit presents an incredible educational opportunity for our members, who will have access to lectures and working labs hosted by some of the world’s leading experts in canine, feline, equine and avian training and behavior. We are thrilled to have been able to negotiate this option as part of our sponsorship deal; it is clearly excellent value and we encourage our members to invest in themselves and their professional education by participating. I would, however, urge people not to wait as we only have very limited availability and expect these special Doggone Safe sponsored packages to be snapped up in no time.” Contact Doggone Safe representative Rebekah King, to register for one of the Doggone Safe sponsored packages at PPG Summit 2017, see

PPG Summit 2017: Fit for a Pit and Pinups for Pitbulls Sign up as Exhibitors


it for a Pit and Pinups for Pitbulls will be sharing a large exhibitor booth at PPG’s annual summit in Orlando, Florida, and are able to offer a special summit discount offer for their clients and supporters. Registrants can save an incredible $400 off the regular cost of one of PPG’s Great Dane packages, or nearly 30 percent, with even greater savings if they share a room with a friend or col-


league. PPG can also help find roommates for anyone looking. Payment plans for the next few months are available for $261 /month single occupancy and $195/month double occupancy. Each organization has a unique summit registration link. Find more details and Fit for a Pit’s package deals at www and Pinups for Pitbulls’ special discounts at

STOP PRESS! Special offers are now available for PPG’s 2017 annual summit in Orlando, Florida from November 16-20. See ad on page 5 for more details, or

PPG Online Archive Now Boasts over 1,650 Entries


f you are looking for information on a specific subject, the PPG Archive,, now holds over 1,500 articles, scientific studies, blog posts, podcasts and videos and is growing daily. Categories covered include canine, feline, avian, equine, training, behavior, pets, business, consulting, advocacy, PPG news, events, education, videos, podcasts, blogs, research papers and book reviews. Every article ever published in PPG's trade publication, BARKS from the Guild is also stored there. These studies and videos are just a small selection of the more recent additions: Context and Behavioral Processes in Extinction by Mark E. Bouton: Dopamine Jackpot! Sapolsky on the Science of Pleasure [Video File]: Dog bite injuries to humans and the use of breed-specific legislation: a comparison of bites from legislated and non-legislated dog breeds by Nanci Creedon and Páraic S. Ó Súilleabháin: If you are looking for something and can't find it, let us know and we'll try to find it for you. If you have read (or even written) a great blog post, send us the link and we'll add it to the archive. Same goes for videos, podcasts, scientific studies and research papers. BARKS from the Guild/September 2017



Project Trade Names May Ambassador...


ongratulations to Heather Luedecke of Delighted Dog Training Academy,, in Columbus, Ohio, USA who traded three choke collars and is Project Trade's ambassador for May, 2017. Congratulations too to JJ Bachant Brown of The DogSmith Gulf Coast, www.dogsmith .com/gulf-coast, in Milton, Florida, USA for trading one shock collar and one prong collar, and to Debra Monroe of Managing Manners Positive Dog Training, www .managingmanners .com, in Oakland County, Michigan, USA for trading one shock collar and one prong collar.

...and June Ambassadors

In June, two Project Trade members took the ambassadorial honors: Breanna Norris of Canine Insights, www in Maine, USA, who collected three shock collars, two prong collars, and three choke collars, and Anastasia Tsoulia of Hug4Pets,, in Thessaloniki, Greece, who collected three prong collars and one choke collar. There were many other successful participants in June and we congratulate them all: Stephanie Peters of Plucky Paws, LLC, of Iowa, USA (one choke collar and one prong collar); Daniel Antolec of Happy Buddha Dog Training,, in Wisconsin, USA (one prong collar); Nee Kang of Cheerful Dogs,, in Singapore (one choke chain); Dan Raymer of North Carolina Dogs,, in North Carolina, USA (one prong collar); Erika Gonzalez of From Dusk Till Dog, LLC in Mantua, New Jersey, (one prong collar and two shock collars); and Aileen Hodgson of K9-Kapers Limited,, in Scotland, United Kingdom (one shock collar). For more on Project Trade, see More aversive training equipment swapped by joint Project Trade June ambassador, Anastasia Tsoulia

Aversive training gear swapped by Project Trade May ambassador, Heather Luedecke

JJ Bachant Brown traded one shock collar and one prong collar

Debra Monroe exchanged one shock collar and one prong collar


BARKS from the Guild/September 2017

Co-Project Trade June ambassador, Breanna Norris exchanged three shock collars, two prong collars, and three choke collars


PPG to Host Practical Training and Behavior Workshop in Kanab, Utah


PG is hosting Training and Behavior Workshop at Best Friends Animal Society,, from April 22-26, 2018 in Kanab, Utah. The event is relevant for all trainers and behavior consultants who will get the opportunity to work across multiple species.You can attend this event and just participate in the full schedule of presentations each day, or you can combine volunteer shifts with workshops and lectures.Your choice! Presentations are scheduled each morning, afternoon and evening. The hands-on workshops will focus on how to help pets develop skills that will support their successful adoption and integration into their new home. These are important skills needed by many of the pets we, as pet professionals, encounter each and every day. CEUs are available: PPAB 34, IAABC 34, and CPDT 34. See and ad on page 11 for more details.

PPG Australia News Update


fter a slightly a rocky start, our webinars are picking up. Louise Ginman’s presentation Training Zoo Carnivores for Cooperative Care Behaviors was very well received and Debra Millikan’s free webinar for members on the Pet Dog Ambassador (PDA) program,, was a great starting point to help the program reach a broader audience here in Australia. We are confident that more of our members will now offer the PDA program. And who has not met dogs who bark, lunge or growl on leash but are social off leash? My webinar, Jekyll and Hyde – Social off Leash but Reactive on Leash, explored the reason behind reactivity, and ways to address this distressing problem for dogs and owners in a positive and effective way. The preparations for the inaugural Australian summit in Sydney next year, Sydney-Australia-2018, are in full swing and, under PPG president Niki Tudge’s guidance, the summit committee has been put in place and the local members are ready to go. We are looking forward to an exciting, successful event next July. Life is busy both for us and our dogs, and sometimes our hectic lifestyle can get in the way of teaching our pets. At times we may see training purely as an exercise to be completed as quickly as possible, and forget that our relationship and connection with them is just as important as what they learn. This also true for our professional and personal relationships -they need to be nurtured and cared for. A connection can only develop if there is trust, predictability and positive affirmation (and reinforcement when talking about dogs). While we still emphasize the training aspect of our relationships with our dogs and other pets, I do think taking care of the bond is just as important and yields great satisfaction. It also helps if we focus and reinforce the good things our pets do and try to avoid the pitfalls of nagging by setting them up for success with good management. I also feel that slowing down occasionally from our hectic schedule and appreciating our family, friends and pets for who they are, rather than who we want them to be, might provide us with more contentment than the time many of us spend on social media. - Barbara Hodel MA MBA DipCBST Cert IV CAS President, PPG Australia BARKS from the Guild/September 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: subject to change):

Sunday, September 3, 2017 - Noon (EDT) Guest: Emily Larlham Topic: Trick dogging and how, through trick training, you can learn more about how your dog learns, as well as sharpening your communication and teaching skills. Register to listen live: Wednesday, September 20, 2017 - 4 p.m. (EDT) Guest: Dr. Sally Foote Topic: The Top Five Low Stress Handling™ techniques for dogs; threshold learning - why recognizing the threshold for anxiety for an individual animal is essential for learning; and alternative therapies - do they really work? Register to listen live:

Wednesday, October 18, 2017 - 4 p.m. (EDT) Guest: Ken McCort Topic: Upcoming PPG Summit presentations, and how to ensure our pets get along with each other. Register to listen live:

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Submit a question for any of the guests here: /form/m37XVZeJ2cL3p0e7lD

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


Residential Workshop

The Power of Choice with Irith Bloom Friday, September 08, 2017 - 1 p.m. (EDT)

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)

The R.E.W.A.R.D. Zone for Aggressive & Reactive Dogs with Pamela Dennison Wednesday, September 13, 2017 - 2 p.m. (EDT) Managing Compassion Fatigue: How to Care for Yourself While Caring for Animals and People with Dr. Vanessa Rohlf Thursday, September 28, 2017 - 5 p.m. (EDT) Fetch Me A Drink! The Key Strategies for Building a Successful Behavior Chain with Louise StapletonFrappell Friday, October 06, 2017 - 3 p.m. (EDT) How Do You Know If A Dog Has Developed A Positive Association? TEST! with Yvette Van Veen Tuesday, October 17, 2017 - 6 p.m. (EDT) Improve Your Critical Thinking Skills with Niki Tudge Wednesday, October 18, 2017 - Noon (EDT) Concepts in Cognition with Yvette Van Veen Sunday, November 5, 2017 - 5 p.m. (EST) Restricted Activity for Dogs with Siân Ryan Thursday, November 9, 2017 - 2 p.m. (EST) 10

BARKS from the Guild/September 2017

• Details of all upcoming webinars: Note: A recording is made available within 48 hours of all PPG webinars.

• Details of this month’s discounted webinars:

• Details of all upcoming workshops:

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


If you are an applicant in the system and on the road to accreditation, PPAB is here to help you be successful! s

THERE ARE A NUMBER OF TOOLS AT YOUR DISPOSAL: A Process Road Map with Check Boxes: s The Examination Study Guide: s The Case Study Template: s The Video Review Form: s The Facebook Applicant Support Group - To join, email: s ABA Dictionary:


Remembering Anne Springer

Friends and colleagues share their memories of PPG founding member Anne Springer of


Danvers, Massachusetts, USA, who passed in May, 2017

didn't know you very long or very well, Anne. What I do know is that you were a huge help to me with sorting out my pup's issues and helping me to give him a better life. For that I will be forever grateful. I also know that the dog world has lost an extremely knowledgeable, caring, and compassionate advocate. I wish I had had the pleasure of meeting you personally. We seemed to have shared many views. Anne gave me a lot of good advice about how to work with Cooper (pictured right), my dog-reactive dog, using desensitization and counterconditioning, and was always very supportive of my efforts with him. Consequently, Cooper is much less reactive and, at the age of 9 years, actually has his first dog friend that he can play with without being aggressive. I will always be grateful for the help and advice I got from Anne. - Joanne McKay-Hudak, USA





nne was a person who supported and motivated everyone she came into contact with. Quietly, and from the sidelines, she found the time to encourage and motivate me. Thank you Anne, you are missed greatly. - Carole Husein, UK

An Ode to Anne or your support, your honesty and your passion, we are grateful! Gone far too soon, gone far too quickly. No time to say goodbye, no time to say thank you. Time to weep and time to praise. Time to reflect and time to remember. Your passion, your drive, your ongoing struggle to make life so much better for those who are now bereft without you. Goodbye Anne. - Niki Tudge, USA


IP dear Anne. We spent three years helping to shape and form PPG and you were always a vocal, persistent and passionate founder and steering committee member. Those who knew you, looked up to you and I am happy our paths crossed. Please continue to look down on us and guide where you can. - Diane Garrod, USA

never met Anne in person, but was fortunate to know her via the Academy for Dog Trainers. I will miss her pearls of wisdom and trying to get me to take the PPG accreditation. - Nick Honor, UK

Anne Springer was well known for her passion for force-free training, and for the endless support she offered to others

knew Anne only via the internet, particularly the Facebook pages and groups where she was active. I doubt she knew me. I always read her posts as there was so much knowledge in each of them. This knowledge that she so kindly and freely shared, her enthusiasm and empathy, helped me grow in my profession as a dog trainer and also personally. - Nienke Parma, Thailand 12

Joanne McKay-Hudak’s Cooper became less dog-reactive with Anne Springer’s help

BARKS from the Guild/September 2017


never had the pleasure of meeting Anne, but I was influenced by her force-free message and guided by her passion to give pets better lives. As I drove to meet a client today listening to Art Garfunkel, I thought of Anne... "When the singer's gone let the song go on, It's a fine line between the darkness and the dawn. They say in the darkest night there's a light beyond But the ending always comes at last, Endings always come too fast, They come too fast But they pass too slow." There is one thing I know...we will be your voice, as you were the voice for animals, and carry on with the song you taught us. Rest in peace. - Daniel H. Antolec, USA


first met Anne in August of 2013 when I took her companion dog class with my Sheltie puppy. Being active in dog sports and working in pet care for quite a few years, I knew I wanted to attend a class that taught with positive reinforcement, but I wasn't aware at the time that Anne was such a pioneer of force-free training. I went on to take her rocket recall class and regularly attended yappy hour. Anne and I became friends and we would regularly talk about all things dog. Last year (2016) I got up the courage to ask Anne if I could attend more of her classes just to be able to learn more about dog training. What an experience this was this past year! I assisted her with small tasks she couldn't do, but just being there learning and listening... I like to think I got way more out of my presence than she did. Anne and I attended a few seminars together; she would lean over and give me her thoughts on the subject. Most of my notes are probably what she was saying to me instead of the presenter. We would look at each other when we disagreed with what they said, both of us knowing that there was a better way. Anne would add me to any Facebook group she thought I could learn from. She would quickly come to my defense if I got into an argument with someone who thought you needed to use force in training. She was so well spoken and of course knowledgeable. I messaged her whenever I had a question about anything and she was always there to help me out. She cheered me on as my dog made accomplishments in sports, and then she bragged to the class students about what I did with him. Odo, my sheltie, knew her as "Auntie Anne." She never forgot to wish him a happy birthday, happy anniversary or holiday wish. We would talk for an hour or two after class or yappy hour ended, sometimes she would go on about politics, horses, trucks or ukeleles. I learned way more about trucking than I care to know! However, I loved her stories about her dogs, Quanah and Seqoyah, her past dogs, and the amazing things she did with them. One story comes to mind that reminds me of the kind of person Anne was... this past winter when it was very dark when her class was over, she drove me about 100 feet over to my car to avoid me walking alone down the alley past a sketchy looking man alone in the parking lot. That is kind of person Anne was... so kind, thoughtful and protective. She was always willing to do what she could to support her friends and always spoke her mind. I wish I could have spent more time with her, these last few years certainly weren't enough. I had so much left to learn and now she won’t be there to guide me anymore. There are so many people that knew her only online and I'm so grateful that not only did I know her in person, but I got her as a mentor too. Anne knew that I wanted to pursue dog training professionally and she was helping me decide which program to go with. I hope I will be almost as wonderful a dog trainer as she was and help continue her mission. - Amy Grossman, USA



nne Springer served on my advisory board for Dog Health News™. Her insight and support related to dog health, dog training and dog health professionals was integral to my mission. Anne was also a guest on Dog Health News TV and my podcast series, Sit.Stay.Listen.™. - Roberta Chadis, USA

Roberta Chadis (left) with Anne Springer


nne Springer and I became friends through Facebook. Her comments and insights were always poignant, funny and encouraging. We spoke on the phone a few times, for hours, we were like long lost friends. Anne was a guest on my 8 LIMBS podcast speaking about the licensure of Pet Dog Trainers. She did not disappoint, as she had extensive experience with the matter from Massachusetts, her home state, and where there is at least an inclusion for protection from harm for companion animals in a training context. - Drayton Michaels, USA


nne was so inspirational as both a person and spokeswoman for our community of trainers, and though we only met through Facebook, her positive support was always helpful. Anne spent much of her time educating, and for that I could not be more grateful. My condolences to her family and friends, and though I am saddened by her sudden passing, she's not only with Leah Roberts, also with with Paula Lancaster, who shared her positivity as well. Rest in peace, sweet Anne; you will be sorely missed. - Shannon Thier, USA


had never met Anne in person but we have corresponded through various Facebook groups about reactive dogs since I have one. I appreciated Anne for her voice of reason and always found her advice scientifically sound. She was quite witty, as not all of our exchanges were about dogs. I enjoyed her sense of humor and her astute view about dog training. I have learned so much from Anne. This is such a profound loss. I will miss her. - Julielani Chang, USA BARKS from the Guild/September 2017



PPGBI Hosts Educational Event

Susan Nilson reports from the Pet Professional Guild British Isles June meet-up in Edinburgh

PPGBI members and PPG steering committee members at the one-day educational meet-up in Edinburgh


et Professional Guild British Isles (PPGBI) hosted a one-day educational event in Edinburgh, Scotland at the end of June for both members and non-members to network, find out more about PPGBI, and have a little fun in the process. Pet Professional Guild (PPG) was represented at the event by founder and president, Niki Tudge, PPGBI membership manager, Louise Stapleton-Frappell, who also organized the meeting, and PPG steering committee members, Claire Staines and Susan Nilson, who is also editor of BARKS from the Guild. The event was well attended by members from Scotland, England and Wales, who enjoyed a day of educational presentations and getting to know their peers. Many commented on the enormous value they found in gaining access to other force-free trainers for support and advice, given that it can feel a little isolating if one is the only person in the community advocating force-free methods.

The Trainer/Human Relationship

The first speaker of the day was Maxwell Muir with a presentation on developing coaching attributes for training pet dog owners, and creating the Right Attitude Within (RAW) factor in clients. Muir’s presentation focused on the different aspects of the trainer/human relationship, and how we, as professionals, can inspire clients towards success with their dogs, given that many lose the motivation to continue with training and behavior change plans through lack of support and the amount of work needed to achieve results. “Scientists say it takes four to six weeks to change habits and even longer to dilute them,” Muir said. “If the professional, or the client, doesn’t have the right attitude within, no one can move forward. In my experience, challenging clients’ mindsets is the biggest challenge, as we may be battling deeply ingrained habits.” Muir believes professionals need to encourage clients to change the way they see things, as when they get stressed they may resort to their old behaviors in terms of interacting with their dog. “It may be that we need to change our support package,” he said. “A lot of clients do not read long complicated be14

BARKS from the Guild/September 2017

havior reports and may get more out of a 15-minute supplemental phone call every week. This makes them accountable. It can be more useful than a printed handout and may be the difference between keeping going and giving up. Also, people are more likely to tell you something over the phone or face-to- face. Email is not the same.” According to Muir, little successes along the way help build a client’s confidence. “It can be a very sensitive issue for people to call in an expert when they feel inadequate, and people may try to hide their feelings of vulnerability or show them in different ways,” he said. “Being able to desensitize people and get them to reveal things is a skill. It is an art to be able to chip away, to ask questions in a way that helps a client to reveal the answers. “We have to make clients feel adept, not inept. We also need to bear in mind that people are often busy and need to see evidence that what we are doing is working. We have to build clients up, have fun with what we are teaching them and not highlight errors. There will be many small successes and we need to point these out. We can’t expect them to always get it right,” Muir said. When met with resistance, Muir suggests one approach might be to ask, “Why am I here, what got you to the point that you called me?” “The world is getting tougher for dogs and trainers are getting bigger asks, and we need to be able to deal with it,” he said.

Tools for Guardians of Reactive Dogs

Next up was Claire Staines, who talked about running a reactive dog class safely and effectively. “You will never solve a reactivity issue in seven weeks,” Staines said. “It has taken me years to get the formula [for a reactive dog class] right. A seven-week class is not a cure, but it gives clients the tools they need and sets them on the right path. By working with the dog in class, owners can rehearse the behaviors they need in the outside world.” Staines believes it is essential that clients should be supported at all times, meaning they do not just feel supported, but


actually are supported. “This means being prepared to make yourself available constantly,” she said. “We also need to explain to clients about management, and about the changes they might need to make to their lifestyle to accommodate the dog’s issues. As professionals, we need to manage the environment. This means finding quieter spaces to train reactive dogs. In the real world, you can’t expect people to stop their dogs from running up to you, while in the class, you have to set up the environment so there won’t be an incident. For example, don’t have all dogs come in at once. Use barriers. Have helpers and assistants. Brief everyone before the dogs come in.You have to have Plan A, B, C and D so you know where you’re going to go if things go wrong, as well as how to raise criteria if things are going well. In an emergency you need to do whatever you need to do to keep dogs safe. “If I have a dog that can always sit when asked, but who then suddenly stops, it is information,” Staines continued. “It means the dog has a problem. Sometimes an owner may say their dog is “stubborn” rather than realize he is scared or experiencing a negative emotional response.” Staines emphasized the importance of being realistic. “Not everything can be solved in less than two months, but keep the communication open with the guardian,” she said. “Most of my clients want to do more. Note too that if a dog has a genetic issue or an anxiety issue, then you will never get perfection. Reactive dog classes are not easy to organize and run, so think hard before you commit.”

Presenters Maxwell Muir (left) and Claire Staines spoke about the professional/client relationship and reactive dog classes respectively

Teaching a Behavior Chain

After lunch, Louise Stapleton-Frappell gave a very detailed presentation on the complexities of linear behavior chains, focusing specifically on how to build a successful behavior chain – in this case, how she taught her Staffie trick dog champion, Jambo, to fetch a beer from the fridge. “When training behavior, the first thing you need is a task analysis so you can break down discrete behaviors within the chain and identify the cue, behavior and reinforcement,” Stapleton-Frappell said. “Ask yourself which behaviors the learner already knows and what you need to teach him, then break it down into small steps to facilitate training. Perform the task analysis and set out a training plan that collects the data, and you will be on the road to success. If I spend one hour planning how to train something for five minutes, I will be much more effective.” According to Burch and Bailey (1999), a task analysis is the procedure whereby a task is broken into small steps to facilitate training. “A task analysis identifies the stimulus and response for each step of the chain.” (Burch and Bailey, 1999). “Stick to one reinforcer when teaching a behavior set,” Stapleton-Frappell said. “A cue does not necessarily have to be verbal. It can also be visual (i.e. the sight of something [e.g. in this case, the sight of an open fridge door after Jambo had taken out the beer, was the cue for him to close it] or another behavior. If the dog can do five behaviors in quick succession in any order, then I know I am ready to teach the chain. I can then test the learner’s cue discrimination with meaningless words thrown into a rapid fire sequence, e.g. scoot, rewind, down, apples (not a learned cue so the learner stays in the previous position), scoot. “Backwards chaining is more efficient than forward chaining because you are always reinforcing the terminal behavior, Stapleton-Frappell said. “This drives the learner through the chain to get to the final behavior and get the reinforcer. At the same time,

Louise StapletonFrappell explains linear behavior chains

Niki Tudge (left) makes the case for functional assessments

BARKS from the Guild/September 2017


EVENTS Edinburgh attendees listen intently to one of the presentations

(Left to right) PPG steering committee member Claire Staines, PPGBI membership manager Louise Stapleton-Frappell, BARKS from the Guild editor Susan Nilson, PPG president Niki Tudge, and PPG steering committee member Carole Husein

probability settings, functionally equivalent behavior, and patterns based on observable behavior and events,” Tudge said. In addition to the functional assessment, Tudge emphasized the importance of anecdotal evidence, i.e. what the client tells us via the informant interview. “Anecdotal evidence is first- or second-hand information about an individual’s personal experience,” Tudge said. “Both positive and negative anecdotal evidence are unreliable as they do not provide tangible data that can be stratified, analyzed or scientifically interpreted. They do, however, offer an insight into how people think and feel and can often be the source of a hypotheThe Functional Assessment Finally, Niki Tudge closed out the day, discussing the approach and sis. At the close of the informant interview the consultant may be able to develop a contingency statement, i.e. a “what/if” stateflow of behavior case management, and making the case for the ment. Behavioral contingencies state the if-then conditions that use of functional assessments in behavior change programs. set the occasion for the potential occurrence of certain behavior “There’s validity to anecdotal information that a client will and its consequences.” submit on the pre-consult questionnaire but then our job is to Tudge also discussed when – and when not to – implement a determine, via the functional assessment, what is causing the functional analysis. “If you are confident with the contingencies problem behavior,” Tudge said. “We need to determine, via our from your interview and if necessary, a direct observation, then questions to the client, if their answers are accurate – preferably you should avoid the functional analysis,” she said. “Every time with the dog in another room. We must make sure we stay safe the dog performs a behavior and it is reinforced, the behavior at all times. The key question to ask first is, ‘Is the dog afraid?’ If becomes more entrenched. On the other hand, we need to so, then you need to change his emotional state. know what those contingencies are in order “It is competent, ethical and profesto effectively and efficiently change them. sional to conduct a functional assess“If you have completed your informant inment,” Tudge continued. “A functional terview and direct observation and you are assessment is an objective way to look at not confident in your understanding of what a behavior problem, and as a problem the antecedent or consequences are, then solving system it challenges common asyou can consider a functional analysis – prosumptions and perceptions. It is solutionvided that the client is committed and wants driven, will produce results, and help us to see a complete behavior change, rather get past any of our own biases regarding than implement management strategies,” the dog, the situation, and the family. It Tudge said. “The functional analysis experialso helps develop shared meaning with ment should only test areas of the continfamily members and other professionals gency statement that are unclear. If you are as to what is going on, and will help treat unsure about the relationship between the the cause of the problem behavior, as antecedents and the behavior, you would test well as the symptom. In addition, it is a the antecedent package until the evoking, disformal way of documenting the process. criminative stimuli were identified. Likewise, if “By using a functional assessment, we the lack of clarity in the contingency stateintend to discover the antecedent(s) ocment came from understanding which consecasioning the behavior, the consequence Stephanie Rose Chamings with quences were maintaining the behavior, then that is maintaining the behavior, precurPaco, who has become a regular these would be tested.” sors and behavioral chains, high- and low- attendee at PPGBI events you need to be careful not to build in errors if the learner discovers behaviors they find reinforcing along the way. While errors are information, aim for minimal errors (or no errors – which means you will end up with minimal errors), as errorless learning is hard to achieve. Remember, if you continuously reinforce the error, it will become part of the final chain.” In these videos, Jambo demonstrates the art of perfecting the linear behavior chain, see Fetch Me a Beer and Fetch Me a Drink Reinforcers = Praise, Food, Boomer Ball.


BARKS from the Guild/September 2017

Tudge emphasized the importance of having a plan and a clear goal. “Testing for what a dog achieves is usually less risky,” she said, adding that it is risky to test for escape/avoidance behaviors, especially if aggressive behaviors are involved. “If the client does not have the resources for a full commitment to a behavior change program, management is far more relevant,” Tudge said. “If you ask a client how invested they are in their dog on a scale of 1-10, it is a good indicator of the success of the outcome. Leave the house having taught the dog at least one thing so it reframes the problem for the owner.” Tudge also discussed how important it is that professional dog trainers and behavior consultants are good teachers. “It has been my experience that many dog trainers’ people skills are weak,” she said, adding that “up to 98 percent of our industry is out there teaching with no formal teaching skills. “Note too, that the homework you give to clients may simply consist of incorporating the training into their and the dog’s daily lives so they don’t have to do a structured 15-minutes session,” she continued. “Many clients just don’t have the time for that.” n


Burch, M.R., & Bailey, J.S. (1999). How Dogs Learn. New York, NY: Howell Book House DogNostics. (2017, April 2). Fetch Me a Drink Reinforcers = Praise, Food, Boomer Ball [Video File]. Retrieved July 30, 2017, from Stapleton-Frappell, Louise. (2017, June 12). Fetch Me a Drink Please. Thank You! [Video File]. Retrieved July 30, 2017, from


After a heavy day of learning, time for a little fun


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


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



PPGBI Attends Victoria Stilwell Dog Bite Prevention Conference


Susan Nilson reports on PPG president Niki Tudge’s presentation at annual Stilwell event, and PPGBI’s attendance as a vendor

n June, Pet Professional Guild British Isles (PPGBI) attended the 2017 National Dog Bite Prevention and Behavior Conference at Kingston University, London, England, hosted by Victoria Stilwell Positively Dog Training and Victoria Stilwell Positively. PPGBI and dog bite prevention educator, Doggone Safe shared a stand at the event, and both organizations were overwhelmed with the interest from event attendees. There were countless requests for Doggone Safe’s flagship Be A Tree educational program to be translated into a variety of languages, while PPGBI attracted a lot of interest from training, behavior and pet care professionals who were keen to join a membership organization whose entire ethos is based on scientifically sound, humane, force-free methods. Pet Professional Guild (PPG) founder and president, Niki Tudge, had been invited to speak at the event, and she hosted an entertaining and informative presentation titled, Keeping Future Generations Safe: How to best communicate your dog bite safety message to your community. “So many pet dogs are rehomed, killed, live a life of purgatory, spend their life in a shelter, or are condemned to the yard,” Tudge began. “They are yearning for us to get out into the community and help make it safer for them. My simple solution is to create a world where pets are better understood, a world where they have access to professionals who can help engage, educate and empower their owners. It sounds simple, but it is not easy. Yet this is my goal. “We need pet professionals who are not only effective and energized, but who can reach pet owners through their sustainable products that are marketed and delivered correctly. While we constantly talk about behavior, much of what we observe is actually communication and social behavior that need observation interpretation skills.” Tudge called on the audience to consider the specific needs of the marketplace, given that most dog bites take place in the family home with children as the main recipients, and can be avoided. “You can become the expert dog bite safety educator in your community,” she said. “Through the use and implementation of specific branded products, your personal expertise and a strategic approach to educational marketing, you can help ensure the safety of future generations. If you have the motivation to implement a dog bite safety educational product, then, like all areas of your business, you need to ensure that you are working to your strengths. Ask yourself, ‘Will it be a private 1-1 product, a group product, or will you take it on the road to schools and groups?’ Think about whether it will be delivered to existing clients as an additional service.” Tudge then moved onto discussing education-based marketing and how it can best be implemented into a professional’s business strategy. “This industry suffers from a lack of an educa18

BARKS from the Guild/September 2017

PPG president Niki Tudge (standing left, front of auditorium) presents at the National Dog Bite Prevention and Behavior Conference:“For a talent to become a strength it needs to be used.The vehicle for this is through your work, through using your skills and knowledge to satisfy your drives and do what gives you energy.”

tion-based approach and the gap between consumer understanding and the professional is huge,” she said. “The challenge is how to bring the consumer to a level of confidence quickly. Ask yourself what you can do to educate the client at no risk to them.You can use education-based marketing to find new customers, increase the average spend/sales for existing customers, increase the frequency of your customer’s purchases and hold on to, or create customers for life.” Tudge broke down her interpretation of using educationbased marketing as follows: Strategy #1: Find New Customers Implement dog bite safety programs in your community; Build expertise credibility; Work to your strengths; Become the dog bite safety expert in your area. Strategy #2: Cross Promote Dog Bite Safety Products Cross sell new dog bite safety products.

Strategy #3: Increase Service Frequency Become the “Go To;” Meet your clients’ desires; Provide solutions.

Strategy #4: Keep Customers for Life Provide the most professional service and products possible while adding value at every opportunity.

“Education leads to inspiration and builds trust, and education marketing positions you as an influencer,” Tudge concluded, to an overwhelmingly positive reception. n

EVENTS What They Said: Soundbites from the National Dog Bite Prevention and Behaviour Conference

“The simplest, most direct way to decrease the rate of dog bites to children is almost certainly to alter the children’s behavior around dogs along with the behavior of the adults who supervise them.” – Janis Bradley, director of communications and publications for the National Canine Research Council, in Dogs Bite but Balloons and Slippers Are More Dangerous, as quoted by Niki Tudge.

“It is unreasonable to expect any dog to be ‘bombproof,’ plus we want people to be responsible. By labeling certain dogs a dangerous, we are implying that other dogs are not. Breed Specific Legislation is not working so let’s not give people a false sense of security.” - Prof. Daniel Mills, Predicting Aggression. “Nobody talked about calming signals 20-30 years ago, not because people didn’t love their dogs but because they didn’t know any different.” - Kamal Fernandez, Dirty Words in Dog Training and Behavior. “An assessment is a snapshot of behavior of that particular dog in that particular place at that particular time. If I had my way, I would assess behavior over a few days.” - Victoria Stilwell, Assessing and Training Dogs that Bite. “I recommend having three different harnesses in your tool bag. Like clothes, you don’t want the same sensation on your body every day. Also, different harnesses create different sensations for the nervous system…Humans have a tendency to pat a dog’s head or ruffle his ears, which stimulates the nervous system…Look at a dog’s coat. If you see that the fur is raised anywhere, it can indicate tension in the

New PPGBI member Alison Mills

New PPGBI member Joanne Clark

soft tissue or skeleton. Small shifts in a dog’s coat could be linked to explosive differences in a dog’s behavior…For a nervous dog, get in his peripheral vision and stroke the leash.The vibrations give a different experience and you don’t have to touch the dog so it’s safer.” Sarah Fisher, Making Life a T-Touch Easier.

“Giving animals control of their environment is part of humane care. Create safe situations and let the dog investigate.” - Grisha Stewart, Techniques to Address Fear Issues in Dogs.

“A little bit of fear can keep you sharp, especially is a dangerous situation. Fear is a functional adaptive tool as it allows you to take avoiding action from a threat…Swap the word training with having some fun with your dog.” - Guy Williams, Jobs for Dogs to Build Frustration and Confidence.

“What matters is not so much the reinforcer but giving the dog time to process new information.” - Kendal Shepherd, How Misunderstanding Canine Behavior Could Prove Fatal.

“How much time do we spend teaching a puppy impulse control yet all we are really doing is creating more and more frustration?...We need to stop people thinking training is obedience.We need to create training environments that set a dog up for success, including food, toys, water bowls and other things the dog is used to so it helps the dog feel safe and relaxed.We need to arrange the environment so we are more likely to get the behaviors we want, which is preferable to free shaping.” - Chirag Patel, Rethinking Puppy Socialization.

Chirag Patel and Herbie the pup demonstrate early socialization:“Often people think of socialization as something needed for puppies, rather than a lifelong experience, but the exposure needs to continue into adulthood.”

The joint PPG and Doggone Safe stand saw a great deal of interest in its products and services

New PPGBI member Faye Godson (left) with PPGBI membership manager Louise Stapleton-Frappell (center) and current PPGBI member Susie Parker

New PPGBI member Rebekah Day (center) with PPGBI membership manager Louise StapletonFrappell (left) and PPG president, Niki Tudge New PPGBI member Lee Ferry

BARKS from the Guild/September 2017



An Open Letter to Pet Industry Representatives Regarding the Use of Shock in Animal Training

PPG calls on industry professionals to take a collective stand and position against the use

umane and effective animal training procedures lay the foundation for any animal’s healthy socialization and training, and help avoid the onset of behavioral issues. In PPG’s view, the general pet-owning public must be better served by professional organizations and associations to help them ensure their pets live in nurturing and stable environments where they are able to maintain a positive emotional state and feel safe. This will, in turn, play a significant role in preventing behavior problems and enhancing dog bite safety protocols. a) Transparency and Consumer Advocacy Many shock collar trainers market themselves under verbiage and marketing slogans such as “force-free,” “positive relationship,” “natural methods,” “relationship building,” “positive only,” “no food necessary,” and so on. These are all taglines that are bandied around the industry, but mislead unsuspecting owners looking for humane ways to train their pets. They are carefully crafted to appeal to pet guardians who may not always understand the various training methods available, or the fallout and unintended consequences of making the wrong choice. They thus do not provide consumers the autonomy to make ethical decisions on behalf of their pets. This, compounded with the inability of a pet to offer informed consent, further questions the ethics of such training practices. The foundation of anyone working in behavioral sciences must always be to do no harm. b) Scientific Training Methods: „Do No Harm‰ Must Become Aligned with „Do Good‰ All animals are motivated by food. Food is necessary for survival. It is therefore a powerful primary reinforcer and a critical component when used correctly as part of a strategic training or management plan. For behavior consultants who engage in behavior change programs where it is necessary to change a pet’s emotional reaction to a problematic stimulus, food is essential. When modifying observable behaviors such as growling, lunging and biting that are often manifestations of a fearful and/or anxious emotional state, the goal must be to change the underlying emotional response, thus enabling the dog to learn a new, more appropriate behavior. It is frequently misunderstood that fear is an emotion and not a behavior. One cannot simply “train it out.” Indeed, fear is often the underlying emotional state to aggressive behavior, and requires the implementation of a different set of scientific protocols and a greater understanding of emotional learning and ani20

BARKS from the Guild/September 2017

© Can Stock Photo/Galyna


and application of electric shock as a “training method” (Part Three of three)

Rather than rely on aversive means, PPG encourages all organizations to embrace the vast body of scientific research that details the many advantages of positive training methods, and publicly say “no” to any technique that causes pain or fear

mal behavior. A review of the scientific literature recommends the use of food as a reinforcer in desensitization and counterconditioning protocols that are specifically aimed at addressing the underlying emotions of fear and/or anxiety. In reality, using food to counter condition emotional responses is the most widely accepted method for treating fear-based behaviors (Overall, 2013). c) Humane Hierarchy A common trend across professional animal training and behavior associations is the promotion and application of a socalled humane hierarchy, and there are several versions available. A number of key animal behavior and training associations promote the use of a specific hierarchy to their membership, and deem it acceptable to move up through the hierarchy when working with owners and their pets. Some humane hierarchy models are accompanied by pages of explanation, detail and academic citations, while others are wonderfully graphic and detail each level. Levels generally start using management strategies and antecedent control, moving then to positive reinforcement, i.e. rewarding a desirable behavior to increase the likelihood of that behavior being repeated. Eventually levels build up to positive

punishment (which would include electric shock) to stop an undesirable behavior via the use of force or pain or any other aversive (to the animal) means. Members of any given professional body are encouraged to work within the guidelines of these hierarchies, and they are promoted to members as a tool to utilize when initiating training and behavior change programs. O’Heare (2014) presents that the least intrusive effective behavior intervention (LIEBI) model is “proposed as a ‘best practice,’ because of its careful attention to ethical responsibility... Considerately working through the process of finding the least intrusive effective intervention is a wise choice, partly because it avoids excess side effects associated with highly intrusive methods.” However, if so-called humane hierarchies work in isolation from any non-negotiable best practices or ethical guidelines, ultimately they fail the pet, the owner, the professional, and the entire industry. Progressing up the hierarchy to more invasive and aversive protocols is merely a matter of time for individuals who are not proficient in their craft, or do not have the requisite scientific knowledge or education to understand why this strategy is so problematic in the first place. Other professionals simply skip through the levels, preferring to commence their training programs using the most aversive and invasive tools at hand.



ers, if asked, would most likely say they do not punish their pets, or deliberately place them in frightening situations to try to encourage new, or more appropriate behaviors.Yet the same owners will unwittingly take advice from training professionals who practice “methods” such as hitting, shocking and physically correcting a pet using a leash, or an array of aversive tools. By using different terminology, a professional may feel justified in physically punishing a pet while dispensing corresponding advice to pet owners, without acknowledging that he/she is, in fact, damaging the pet’s physical and mental well-being. In civilized society, it is generally agreed that physical force is not an effective or acceptable way for adults to resolve their differences. Bearing this in mind, it should come as no surprise that physically correcting pets, like hitting children or adults, causes more problems than it solves. It is time to stop physically harming our pets in the name of training. By working together, professional animal training and behavior associations have the ability to achieve this, and successfully reach the ultimate goal, which must be to do no harm to the animals in our charge, and improve the welfare of pets all over the world. The bottom line is that it is entirely possible for pet industry representatives to support professional autonomy and the use of a humane hierarchy, while also taking a stand and position against the use and application of electric shock as a “training method.” As such, PPG calls on fellow industry professionals and associations, animal welfare organizations, and professional animal training and behavior bodies worldwide to stand together, to collectively reach out to, engage and educate pet owners in the implementation and practice of humane, kind and effective training tools and techniques. Rather than rely on aversive means, PPG encourages all organizations to embrace the vast body of scientific research that details the many advantages of positive training methods, and publicly say “no” to any technique that causes pain or fear -- including those administered via equipment that delivers electric shocks. Those of us who have the privilege and responsibility to represent pet professionals and, consequently, reach the wider audience comprised of pet owners and caretakers, are in the optimal position to make significant changes across our industry, within our representing bodies, and for the benefit of the pets we serve, the owners we service, and the professionals we represent. The time to achieve this is now, let’s shape the future! n

It is important not be fooled by deceptive marketing terms (e.g. vibrating, e-touch, remote, stimulation, tingle, static) for shock collars. The primary reason shock collars are effective in stopping behavior is because they are painful, and it is time for pet professionals and associations to collaborate on this central issue, stop inflicting pain masquerading as 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 would automatically be reduced, and real progress could be made in reaching the end goal. Ziv (2017) notes that there is “no evidence to suggest that aversive training methods are more effective than reward based training methods” and that, in fact, studies suggest “the opposite might be true – in both pets and working dogs.” Ziv (2017) suggests a new line of research to “examine how humane, rewardbased methods can be improved in order to facilitate better communication between humans and dogs. In turn, such outcomes will allow dogs to modulate their stress, and at the same time improve their ability to effectively understand and respond References to the behavior displayed towards them.” O’Heare, J. (2014). The least intrusive effective behavior interWe already have enough research to conclude that using fear vention (LIEBI) algorithm and levels of intrusiveness table: a proposed best practices model.Version 6.0. Retrieved March 27, or physical punishment in the name of training or care of our 2017, from pets is ineffective and potentially harmful (in some cases, lethal). Overall, K.L. (2013). Manual of Clinical Behavioral Medicine for We also know that countless professional organizations and inDogs and Cats. St. Louis, MO: Elsevier Saunders. dustry experts condemn physical punishment and urge pet ownZiv, G. (2017). The Effects of Using Aversive Training Methods in ers to seek professionals who advocate for and, instead, practice Dogs – A Review. Journal of Veterinary Behavior: Clinical Applications positive behavior modification. and Research (19) 50-60. Retrieved March 27, 2017, from However, there is a third reason to advocate against the use of physical punishment, and that is a moral one. Most pet ownTo read PPG’s full Open Letter to Pet Industry Representatives Regarding the Use of Shock in Animal Training, see BARKS from the Guild/September 2017



The Human Factor

Drayton Michaels discusses some of the common misconceptions about

counterconditioning leash reactive dogs and urges owners or trainers having

Š Can Stock Photo/damedeeso

issues with the process to focus more on their awareness, mechanics and timing


Given the inevitable variables of life, many dogs may need counterconditioning when on the leash at one time or another

BARKS from the Guild/September 2017


hen counterconditioning dogs on leash, it is a series of fluid events that are ever shifting - not only in the moment, but also each day is different. I work with many dogs on leash, and virtually all dogs at some point, during some event or other, need counterconditioning. Some need it more than others, but it is a process that everyone who walks a dog would do well to become, at the very least, adequate at. In fact, I would go as far to say that, for the love of the dog, it would be even better if people became great at it, even just with their own dog, as it can add so much to their lives in terms of stress reduction and expanding their social circle. It is my belief that, as long as someone is capable of physically executing whatever needs to be implemented, then they will have success with just about any dog. Read that again, and really think about the work you do with bona fide reactive dogs and why you may or may not be having success. In my opinion, it is all mechanics and timing in the end. Problems often begin when owners who walk their reactive dogs are not able to implement the proper protocols. For instance, some people refuse to carry food, some people cannot or will not bend, twist, move, stop, look, grab a treat, or use a marker. Sometimes people just do not “do the work.” That does not mean the process is not working, but that the humans are not working. In my opinion, counterconditioning dogs on leash to experience less stress and stay under threshold is an achievable goal. In no uncertain terms, counterconditioning works when it is applied properly, but it takes time and effort, especially for the extremely reactive dog that has lots of triggers. At the same time, there are a number of misconceptions surrounding the process, which I will attempt to dispel here. Misconception #1: Feeding a dog when he is barking or fearful reinforces the fear This is absolutely not true. Fear is an emotion, not a behavior. You can only cause more fear by causing more anxiety or pain. Fear trumps food, so if a dog is accepting a treat, then he is – most likely – not that fearful. In addition, the food is not the focus of the on-leash event. Rather, the impending, approaching or sudden stimulus is the focus. This is not the same as, say, a food bowl that gets kicked repeatedly while the dog is eating, or a dog that is attacked by other dogs over food, and the dog starts to associate the food as a fearful part of the chain and stops eating. Could food be associated with fear with on-leash counterconditioning? Most definitely, but only if the handler starts to scold the dog or cause him to experience some form of fear and pain and then tries to pad the event with food. If the dog is already fearful of traffic, fearful or frustrated by dogs or humans, or in general feels stress when on leash, the food will not have a negative association unless it is an extreme case and the human is causing him fear or pain. On leash, then, the handler should be looking to “pay” the dog while the dog is under threshold upon the first orientation of the stimulus. If, however, the dog is paid after a bark or lunge, the food is not reinforcing the dog being under threshold. What needs to be determined is the emotional component of the dog.

COVER STORY Is he fearful or frustrated? This is a huge factor in determining what is occurring with the dog’s associations. It is also a good window as to what is the main reinforcer and how to rearrange the events. As we trainers often like to say, “Pavlov is always on our shoulder,” so feeding now and then after the dog reacts is not reinforcing the reactivity. What reinforces the reactivity, be it barking or lunging of some kind, is the proximity to the stimulus. Furthermore, what that stimulus is and how the dog associates to it will be crucial for determining the protocols for your counterconditioning. Barking and lunging to some extent can actually help the process as they can help a dog release stress. Of course, we do not want our dogs to bark and lunge chronically or to the point of being overly stressed. Consider, though, the dog that barks at a sound outside the home who is asked to “leave it” and is then paid a food reward when he stops barking. That dog will bark a few times then look for a food reward as opposed to continuing to bark. This is because the food will trump the barking as the reinforcer if the human is consistent in their delivery and then redirects the dog onto something else. On leash, a “touch” for hand targeting is a good way to get the dog away from the stimulus or event and redirect him to a better distance. As such, the dog may bark once or twice, which is acceptable, but will eventually learn that leaving the stimulus and disengaging is more reinforcing. We can always trump peripheral stimulus and main event stimulus with high value food, scent and the contiguous sequences of proper counterconditioning. If a dog is scolded or made to feel pain and, as a consequence, stops a behavior, this is being maintained with negative reinforcement, i.e. the threat of a punisher, which will elicit negative associations to the context as well as stress. In terms of being on leash, punishments or flooding will make the antecedents of the sequence fearful. As environmental stimuli will often add up until, at some point, they become “too much,” spontaneous recovery will kick in, and the dog will react or shut down. At the same time, he will have less chance of a fast bounce back, as he will not have been processing his stress hormones (glucocorticoids) efficiently through conditioning and training. My advice would be to not sweat the reactivity. Either pay through it, or don’t, but stay more aware and get better distances the next time. In reality, it is the distance that keeps the dog under threshold and not necessarily the food reward. Ultimately, it is both proper distances and high value food rewards coupled with efficiently orchestrated sequences and contiguous reinforcements that get the job done. All dogs will have their own signature disengagement pathologies that are based on the parameters of the event. Just like they develop reactivity pathologies, dogs develop disengagement pathologies, and the better you understand them the easier time you will have counterconditioning.

Hebbian Theory

Introduced by Canadian psychologist Donald Hebb in 1949, Hebbian theory attempts to explain associative, or Hebbian, learning, in which simultaneous activation of cells leads to pronounced inBARKS from the Guild/September 2017



© Can Stock Photo/fotostok_pdv

creases in synaptic strength between those cells, and provides a biological basis for errorless learning methods in education and memory rehabilitation. American neuroendocrinologist and author Dr. Robert Sapolsky (2011) explains that when there is “conflict,” the organism, whether it be human, canine or anything else, is determining what to do via the prefrontal cortex (which has a significant role in goal-directed behavior) and the amygdala (which processes fearful stimuli). These areas of the brain are sending information back and forth at rapid speeds as they attempt to figure out the appropriate response. Thus, by counterconditioning with high value food and implementing distance, a dog is helped tremendously in regard to “making better decisions” in the face of stress. Hebbian theory is often summarized with reference to American neurobiologist Carla Shatz’s simple phrase: “Cells that fire together, wire together.” Cognitively, it is not fully possible to “reinforce fear” with legitimate reductions in the intensity of the fearful stimulus, i.e. working to reduce the intensity of the fear or frustration each time, unless the dog is flooded repeatedly and there are no trials that result in the dog staying under threshold, but then that is neither legitimate nor effective in reducing fear. Misconception #2: Mistaking fear for frustration Sometimes, people observe a dog reacting to something and automatically assume he is fearful, yet this may not always be the case. The way to determine if it is indeed fear, or perhaps rather frustration, is to take an accurate history to identify the stimulus (or stimuli) and the environmental contingencies of distances. There are usually varying degrees of distance and their associations, so the appearance and duration of the exposure need to be logged and factored in. For example, how long does the stimulus typically stay? If possible, find out at what distance and duration, upon first exposure, the dog will stay under threshold. This is a good gauge for determining how much time you have before you reinforce with food or add distance. Obviously, a sudden appearance by a stimulus that startles the dog may cause him fear. However, what about a well-socialized dog that reacts to other dogs when on leash, yet who has no bite history, years of off-leash play without incident, regular dog friends, and dozens of leash greetings that go very well, but who barks at other dogs when on leash whether he can or can24

BARKS from the Guild/September 2017

not greet them? That dog would be more frustrated than fearful, yet would often be labeled as fearful. Such misinterpretation of a dog’s reactivity could eventually hamper his socialization. Worse still, his humans may be tempted to pursue harsh methods to stop the barking if they think it is the problem, even though it is not. Rather, the problem is the dog’s associative value to the stimuli and the event/context. We have to make that positive, or at least work towards that, even if there is some stress involved for the dog. Humans that allow some leeway for a dog’s barking will most likely do much better in terms of results and eventually reducing his stress levels. Fear is not an easy thing to spot for many people, and dog walks are intrinsically distracting for both people and dogs. Some dogs may just “tough it out” but then one day suddenly explode, as the whole time they were not barking, or maybe had barked but were “shushed,” they were still fearful. This is why I advise clients to pay for sub criteria and pad events as much as possible with either reassurWhen on leash, dogs have no ances or food reoption to remove themselves from what they perceive to wards. be a potentially aversive or threatening situation

Misconception #3: Do enough counterconditioning and the dog will never be fearful or react on leash This is not true. There can be major gains made, tremendous results seen and Olympian reductions in fear achieved, but one day, when the conditions are all lined up, they will still go against all the hard work. For example, the dog may react to something, or perhaps the stimulus you worked so diligently to countercondition will present in a new way or novel environment that causes the dog to go over threshold. This is okay. If you are doing the work properly and achieve 95 percent reliability at some point, you and the dog are doing more than fine, and way above average. Think process rather than results, and the results will come. Misconception #4: You don’t need to mark and pay, just use cues This is one of the main reasons why people fail to obtain results. They ask the dog for too much behavior too soon and are not prepared to reinforce with an equal reward value for the “work.” In the face of fearful stimuli especially, the dog needs to do the least amount of work, so criteria should be dropped. This is why as soon as the dog sees or hears the stimulus and the handler

Misconception #5: The dog is fine, he is not reacting other than looking at “stuff ” Sadly, many dogs are fearful, stressed or frustrated, and display it in subtle ways until the environmental conditions or the history of feeling stressed build up to cause reactivity behaviors, such as barking or lunging, when they cannot deal with the stress any longer. Many dogs are prone to this silent stress, particularly puppies and adolescents, as they are young and a bit fearful due to natural fear periods. The three fear periods intrinsically imbued into their development can make many puppies withdrawn and

Assessing whether a dog is fearful or frustrated is a huge factor when determining what is occurring with the associations he is making

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marks “yes” or clicks, and pays the dog a high value food reward, the dog is simply reinforced for orienting. Catch enough of those “orientation moments,” and many times the dog (with distances in our favor of course) will stay put and wait for more reinforcement. Remember, one of the “four F’s” (fight, flight, freeze, fiddle about) the dog has in spades when on leash is freeze. Remember too, just as fight does not always mean to the death, freeze does not always connote fear to the point of actually freezing. Finally, remember that, in the case of prey, many dogs freeze and wait as part of their stalk sequence. With enough properly implemented counterconditioning, many dogs will eventually “jump the marker,” and only orient to get reinforcement. By marking and paying for simple orientations, you are reinforcing a whole suite of subtle and overt behaviors that, many times, are exactly what we would like more of, such as stopping, waiting, and checking in. One of the main ways people get counterconditioning wrong, especially when it comes to dogs with other dogs, is to cue the reactive dog to sit as other dogs pass by. As detailed by Bouton (2004), when an animal experiences a “context change,” he has a “stop and think” function that acts as a comparator of the stimulus package, as no stimulus on leash comes without “passengers.” In other words, stimuli are package deals: dogs have humans, skateboards have humans, and cars have loud sounds. It is never just one thing you are conditioning. This “stop and think” function occurs in the septo-hippocampal system (Lindsay, 2000), a region of the brain that deals with conflict. At the start of an event when a dog is determining what is occurring and when the decision making is happening as to whether he is safe, unsafe or neutral, he has the most amount of anticipation, which also releases the most amount of dopamine. This is when dogs learn most and best: “…during anticipation… the anticipation phase of acquisition is the most rewarding,” not the “payoff.” (Sapolsky, 2011). Thus, eventually, if humans have a good awareness and proper distances, and reward efficiently with contiguous efficacy, the stimulus can then become the cue for disengagement as it predicts a new outcome from the counterconditioning. When the stimulus has been conditioned to elicit a disengage for the dog, then I suggest issuing some disengagement cues such as “leave it,” or “touch,” i.e. a hand targeting cue. If you just use cues, the dog may have too much to think through in the face of a sudden context change such as a barking dog or a loud truck. When you simply mark “yes” or click and pay the dog a high value food reward, he is learning that sudden changes equal high value food and/or distances that help reduce stress.


reticent in the face of new or novel stimuli. This is an even more tangible reason to implement counterconditioning like a machine for anything that gets their attention. Remember, dogs on leash are intrinsically stressed to some degree as they cannot enlist the flight response. Their only options are to freeze, fight or fiddle about, i.e. react, stay put, or attempt to engage in some sort of displacement behavior. When a dog becomes a little older, either in the middle of adolescence, at the tail end of his “teen years” or around the start of social maturity at roughly the age of 2-3 years, and starts reacting to traffic, humans, and/or other dogs because he lacks a history of being reinforced for orienting to sudden and/or not so sudden changes in the environment when stressed as a young dog, it is really a shame. The dog could have been spared all this stress had his humans simply known about proper counterconditioning, carried food with them on walks, and stayed aware. Remember, when the environment changes the dog is deciding if he is safe, unsafe or neutral. The amygdala, which is the main region of the brain that processes fear, is one synapse away from the olfactory system, which is the strongest part of the dog’s associative tool kit. Stimulus information does not have to travel too far to be considered fearful. The speed with which stimuli is associated as unsafe is in the category of “in the blink of an eye.” It is likely that most sudden stimuli will initially have an apprehension associated with them as animals are intrinsically concerned when changes occur, especially those that occur quickly outdoors when they are trapped on leash. Most stimuli that appear when dogs are on leash do not cause actual pain. Rather, the dog simply feels fear or stress by a stimulus as it enters and then leaves the environment. In this timeframe, owners who countercondition events for their lucky puppies and adolescent dogs help build a foundation of future behavioral insurance. The dog will, at the very least, know that when changes occur, his humans will help him through it so he feels safer. All animals want first to BARKS from the Guild/September 2017



© Can Stock Photo/Madrabothair

When the dog sees or hears the stimulus and the handler marks, “yes” or clicks, and pays the dog a high value food reward, the dog is reinforced simply for orienting

conditions are “right.” By paying for low level orientations and asking for simple disengagement behavior, a dog learns that these stimulus occurrences equal reinforcing sequences.

gain control over their environment so they feel safe, and then proceed. When humans work to that end, things typically go well most of the time. According to Dr. Susan Friedman (2015), “great trainers pay for sub criteria.” This is especially true of leash reactive dogs, or dogs that feel fearful when on leash. Think about it: when you pay for scent and sound, the sight of the stimulus will be less intense provided the distance is appropriate and the duration is not too long. Sub criteria would include other dogs’ vocalizations and scents, while the sight of other dogs would be the main criteria. Traffic would be different as the sound may be the main criteria and the sights not so salient. It all depends on the dog, the parameters and the type of traffic. A human stimulus also has many variables. The best thing to do is video various encounters and review them to figure out what exactly the dog is orienting to first so you can get your criteria in order. You can also pay for the context of being on leash, and help the dog settle, meaning you pay for simple behaviors such as “look” or simply marking “yes” and paying him for very subtle stimuli he orients to, such as dog tags jangling, a far-off motorcycle, or a human down the street at a distance that is guaranteed to have an under threshold response. All this helps when a “main event” occurs. Just about all dogs will react to something if the 26

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Misconception #6: All that is needed is distance and allowing the dog to decide what to do False. In my experience, dogs make poor decisions all the time. In the case of prey and young dogs or dogs that have had zero conditioning, they may decide to lunge or attempt to chase before their prey stalk sequences have been fully developed. In the case of a dog reacting to other dogs, he may decide that barking, even as greater distances are implemented, is reinforcing. This is where a “leave it – touch” chain can really help. We teach the dog not to bark by conditioning an alternate behavior chain. In the case of dogs that need counterconditioning to other dogs, many times they will try to decrease distance due to the genetic predispositions to want to “check out” other dogs. However, that “check out” may mean they want to approach the other dog, and that is generally not a good idea. Again, this is where a simple mark and pay routine can really make an impact. In that initial few seconds when the dog has oriented but not moved, you are also marking and paying simultaneously for the dog to stay and watch the other dog. This may or may not be what is needed. That depends on whether the dog is approaching or moving away from you. Once you need or want disengagement, you can ask for a “leave it – touch” combination and disengage the dog. Of course, some dogs will decide to retreat, and they can also have a food reward in the mix to increase that behavior. However, when dogs are reacting towards stimuli or have a propensity to become stressed, obtain distance ahead of time by way of sequential training. This means staying aware and teaching a retreat cue. Be ready to mark and pay the dog for anything that remotely has him orienting and not attending to gathering scents. This way the dog is being padded and paid for stimuli. Misconception #7:The dog is not food motivated or the dog is a “picky eater” All dogs are motivated by food. If they didn’t eat, they would die. The issue is that fear trumps food. Dogs do not have the cognitive ability to formulate a moral imperative to disobey, to be spiteful or a “picky eater.” All those are human labels and have no real insight as to why a dog may not want food in the face of fear, frustration, stress or excitement. In many cases, it may be the value of the food rather than the dog. Food is akin to money, and in the game of counterconditioning a stressed dog may not go for the usual pay scale. In every case I have seen where the dog was not so stressed or fearful to be shutting down or wanting to escape, I have been able to find some food that has been of sufficient value to be accepted as reinforcement. Many times I have been presented with a dog who has been labeled as “not food motivated,” but once he was given novel, high value food at appropriate distances and in a contiguous fashion, he took the food gladly. The people were amazed and counterconditioning was achieved. Again, the issue was the value of the food, not the dog.

the stimulus (depending on its type and salience) may not really be all that stressful, and with intrinsic distances helping the process compared with the scents available at that moment, the dog may choose to gather scents instead of food. The take home is: food is only one aspect of the reinforcement process. As Bob Bailey says, “Reinforcement is a process, not an event.” (B. Bailey, 2013, personal communication). The counterconditioning procedure involves whatever eventually decreases fear or frustration experienced by a dog on leash. It is not “just the food,” even if it appears that way. I sometimes get comments on my training videos like: “I can’t carry that many treats,” or “Wow, you feed lots of treats, I can’t do that,” or the classic, “My dog will get fat,” but these are all made out of context. The question one really has to ask and know the answer to when they see someone feeding a dog food rewards is, “What are you paying for and what are you paying with?” Past that, one does not know the feeding schedule of a dog being trained with food, the value or type of food, the dog’s history with that handler, and what the dog’s associations in general are to being on leash. Food is a key component to counterconditioning dogs on leash that react to stimuli by barking and lunging or are fearful. Anyone that has had training sessions where the dog has not taken the food needs to be aware that the dog was either too fearful, too close to the stimulus and, thus, frustrated, the food was not valuable enough for the context, or the handler was too late in issuing the reinforcement. If the process of counterconditioning is not working, it is the human that needs to change their behavior. When it all works out and the dog does great, stays under threshold, and adheres to cues, the human has made better choices, and in many cases simply had good luck. It is said of luck that it comes more frequently when people work harder. Focus on human behavior and the environment and the dog will do better each day. That is the real take home here.

Misconception #8:The dog is only doing it for the food This is half right. The dog is also doing it for the distance and/or the stress relief from the human regularly padding the event in some capacity (e.g. jolly talk, food, distance) which is building a proper history and, thus, safety. This new-found motivation helps the dog to form new associations, which is a sign he is learning and improving his capacity to process stress. I have worked with numerous dogs that, after a solid history of counterconditioning, will orient to a stimulus that may have had an aversive association in the past, only to be met with self-disengagement and continued scent gathering, or a check-in for me to deliver a food reward. Sometimes, to reduce stress, a Sometimes, when the food is not dog may prefer to disengage taken as the reinforcer, it may not always and gather scents from the environment, rather be due to fear or overly stressed condithan take food as a reinforcement tions but rather that scent has taken precedence. Even though the dog may have taken the food in past trials, for whatever reason, he chooses to disengage and gather scents, which is fine by me. I have worked with dogs that will take the food, but what really reduced stress levels was distance and scent gathering. Whatever positive reinforcement works to increase the behaviors we want more of is a good thing. Of course, there are dogs that are so food motivated that one piece of high value food after a perfectly marked event can appear to be “magic,” and the “reason” the dog stayed under threshold. Maybe. When we peel back the event and look at the parameters of the context, the food may or may not be doing the trick at close proximity. When

BARKS from the Guild/September 2017

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When working with fearful dogs that have had a past of shutting down and not taking food, I make it a practice to audition the food as soon as I get outdoors. It doesn’t always happen, but many times I get a dog who takes the food at the very start. During those crucial first two to three minutes I am paying for literally anything; maybe a few easy cues like “look” or even for orienting to me or a sound far off. I will pay for anything as a way of gauging a dog’s stress if he has a pathology of extreme fears that shut him down. This “pay for bravery” approach has worked numerous times to bridge the dog from the start of the walk to the end of the walk. Of course, we pay for the big ticket items as well. The great thing about food as a reward, reinforcer, and/or motivator is that the humans can easily carry it with them at all times. They can also make it novel. For example, perhaps the walk can be the only time the dog gets that particular reinforcement, and they can also feed him strategically so he is a bit hungrier when out on a walk. I repeat: If the dog is not taking food, either his stress levels are too high or the food is not valuable enough for him to work on leash. Again, remember that being on leash for dogs is always a bit stressful, so have a commensurate pay scale.



COVER STORY When we countercondition dogs to tolerate or even enjoy a once fearful stimulus, such as a pair of nail clippers, a muzzle, a car ride, or being weighed at the veterinary clinic, the process can be executed the same way every time with extreme accuracy. In on-leash counterconditioning, how well we are executing the process is the vital factor, i.e. the humans and their adjustments of mechanics, timing, and even where and when the dog is walked. When we execute the protocols and then adjust the criteria as success -- or not so much success -- occurs, that is the crucial variable. On the subject of variables, nothing is stagnant for long and sudden shifts often occur. This is life in general, and certainly when on-leash and counterconditioning, so the varying degree of successes are filled with extreme variables whereby the distances of stimuli and the amount of duration are never the same. The parameters are messy, but the execution of the training does not have to be. Stay aware and stay flexible. If you are having leash reactive issues or setbacks, the question to ask is simple: “What is the human doing or not doing?” It is always a matter of reinforcement and distance, and those are based on human awareness, mechanics and timing. Once that gets sorted out, the dog usually does much better. n


Bouton, M.E. (2004). Context and Behavioral Processes in Extinction. Learning & Memory (11) 485-494. Retrieved July 20, 2017, from Fora TV. (2011, Mar 2). Dopamine Jackpot! Sapolsky on the Science of Pleasure [Video File]. California Academy of Sciences. Retrieved July 20, 2017, from Friedman, S. (2015).Living & Learning with Animals: The Fundamental Principles and Procedures of Teaching and Learning [Syllabus]. Distance Education: Behavior Works Lindsay, S.R. (2000). Handbook of Applied Dog Behavior and Training.Volume One: Adaptation and Learning. Ames, IA: Iowa State University Press Shatz, C.J. (1992). The Developing Brain. Scientific American (267) 3 60–67. Retrieved July 20, 2017 from www.scientificamerican .com/magazine/sa/1992/09-01 Drayton Michaels CTC has been working with dogs for 17 years. After graduating from the San Francisco SPCA Academy in 2007, he founded Urban Dawgs,, in Red Bank, New Jersey, offering group classes and private training for dog guardians and their pets, as well as seminars, workshops and consulting services. Soon after, he expanded his practice to include subsidiary, Pit Bull Guru, www.pitbullguru .com, which offers contemporary training and behavior consulting focused on pit bulls and other large breed dogs of all ages. He also released The Pit Bull Hoax, a short film about breed specific legislation (BSL) and pit bull dogs in 2009. This film went on to help end BSL at state level in Ohio. To date, he has trained over 4,000 dogs and their guardians, with an average of 400 dogs a year. Recently he launched Dog Life,, a web series about positive canine behavior modification and training.


BARKS from the Guild/September 2017

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A Matter of Focus

All animals want first to gain control over their environment so they feel safe, and then proceed

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Building Cooperation and Communication

Morag Heirs wonders whether deaf dogs have a better sense of smell and discusses the

really common question that comes up whenever I mention that I own deaf dogs or when I am teaching TD Scentwork© workshops is whether deaf dogs make more use of their noses because they cannot hear. The quick answer to that is, I am not sure. With a dog that is deaf from birth, it makes sense that the parts of the brain normally devoted to using sound information will get recruited for other jobs. However, there is no evidence yet that this extra processing power goes to the nose specifically rather than spreading out across the senses. I have not noticed the deaf dogs I work with to be extra skilled at sniffing games. In contrast, the partially sighted and deaf dogs seem to use sniffing more for information gathering, and are much less able to “cheat” by looking for the scented item or food! Regardless of whether our deaf dogs have a “better” sense of smell, they definitely have fun using their noses, and scentwork that is about teamwork is just about the most fun I think you can have with your dog.

Grub’s guardian uses a hand signal to show him where to sniff during a scentwork session

WhatÊs So Special?

The specific style of nosework or scentwork that I am most familiar with and teach on a regular basis is Talking Dogs Scentwork© (or TD Scentwork©). Pam Mackinnon developed the TD Scentwork© system based on her experiences as a qualified operational drug detector dog handler with Her Majesty’s Customs and Excise in the United Kingdom. This is a free flowing search style which allows the dog to cover complex areas efficiently and effectively. The handler actively works to support the dog and ensure the whole area has been cleared. Unlike some other forms of scentwork, the handler is an integral part of the search and not simply an observer from the sidelines. TD Scentwork© always uses both a verbal search cue and a hand signal making it super easy to adapt for deaf dogs – we do not even need to change the signal. Later on, the more advanced directed searches focus on the dog following your guidance on where to sniff, again using a hand signal. In many ways working a deaf dog is easier because there is less chance of your voice distracting him and there is absolutely no point in repeating the search cue. TD Scentwork© was designed to be easily accessible to all dogs regardless of age, experience or disabilities. The dog and handler team work together to find either a specific food scent or a scented toy – the goal is for the dog to find the target scent itself. Having the option of a food or toy-based system means we can always find something the dog really enjoys working for. Sniffing-based activities have really exploded in popularity over the last 10 years and it is worth considering what some of 30

BARKS from the Guild/September 2017

Photo: Rachel Watkins Photography


benefits of scentwork for hearing and/or visually-impaired dogs

the key differences are between them, and what that might mean for your dog.

1. Active Indication TD Scentwork© uses an active indication where the dog gets his reward immediately on finding the target scent (e.g. the dog eats the cheese or plays with the catnip scented toy). This has several advantages including reducing frustration for the dog (no delay in the reward delivery), and building confidence and problem-solving skills (the dog is encouraged and motivated to work deeply to find the target, rather than sit back and wait for the handler to do the hard work). This is also easier for novice handlers as we find that dogs learn scentwork really quickly! 2. Staged Approach to Build Skills in Dog and Handler TD Scentwork© is taught through a series of workshops to build a strong foundation of skills in both the handler and the dog. We start by teaching the basic game (associating a search cue with the dog’s preferred reward: food or toy), then increase the complexity of the search area. We introduce directed searches where the handler uses a set of search patterns to systematically clear an area, plus postal sack, vehicle and baggage searches. We also teach water searches.

In this way we carefully build up the skills in both dog and handler, and coach them to ensure they both learn helpful and effective search habits. The structured approach also makes it easier to systematically increase or decrease the challenge, and to troubleshoot when things go wrong.

3. Teamwork Rather than Dog Working Independently In TD Scentwork©, the handler is an active participant rather than a chauffeur. It is not uncommon for our workshop delegates to be just as exhausted – if not more so – than their dogs after a long search. Their job is to support their dog, suggest new places to look, and help with access to tricky finds. Working together makes for more efficient searches, and really makes a big difference when building confidence in an anxious dog, or trying to create a closer bond with an independent soul. The handler has to learn how to structure the search, and move with the dog in harmony. Standing around, just watching or getting in the way of your dog can really detract from the search, so we make sure our handlers know exactly what they should be doing. During a search, when the handler sees their dog indicating (a behavioral change – e.g. pawing, check-step, tail position change etc. – that indicates the presence of the target scent), they step away and “ask the question.” This allows the dog to confirm the handler’s observation (staying with the scent if the indication was correctly identified), or to respond by moving away from the area (showing that the answer was no). This question and answer exchange is an integral part of the search and essential to effective scentwork. Asking the question often has the additional benefit of enhancing or increasing the indication – making it easier for the handler to spot in the future.

4. TD Scentwork© Is Non-Competitive There is absolutely nothing wrong with healthy competition. But in my experience as a professional dog trainer, I often see something strange happen when competition is introduced to any activity. Previously calm, considerate handlers start to rush their dogs and put pressure on them. Rather than continuing to work at the dog’s pace, the handler tries to speed up the process and often starts asking questions when there is no indication at all. I have even seen a dog pushed away from a find so the handler could access it faster and win the competition. We do offer an accredited handler assessment. This uses specific search areas and challenges to be completed within a given time limit to test the teamwork between dog and handler. They are scored on criteria such as search patterns, positioning, identification of the indication, support offered and so on. Actually finding all of the articles/items is a very small part of the overall score. However, in the main, the workshops, events and monthly challenges are about deepening our understanding of scentwork and how we can better work with our dogs as opposed to how fast we can make that find.

Key Benefits of TD Scentwork© for Deaf Dogs

• Builds cooperation and check-in habits between deaf dog and handler. By using a teamwork-based approach where you are an es-


sential part of the search team, it is very common to see dogs making more of an effort to stay connected with their handler. This feeds nicely into the check-in training (see Waving Loudly, BARKS from the Guild, January 2015, p. 35-37) which is essential for allowing deaf dogs more off-leash freedom. • Teaches the handler to be more aware of their body position and signals. Deaf dog handlers tend to be quite good about using their hands consistently but may not have really appreciated the finer details (the dog will sniff where the handler gestures, so waving the search hand through the air is less useful than motioning towards a set of boxes). Giving our dogs space to work is really important, and no one likes trying to do something when someone is hanging over their shoulder. In TD Scentwork© we ask the question partly with our hands outstretched, but the major part is the big step away. Even if the deaf dog cannot directly see you, he can definitely feel that movement. • Encourages the handler to learn and really read that subtle body communication. The handler is watching and studying their dog to help identify his indications. This helps them to see all of the other kinds of sniffing or interest that do not relate to the target scent, making them more likely to recognize the warning signs of interest in, let's say, rabbit sniffs on a walk. • A quick and effective way to refocus a barking or staring deaf dog. In an earlier article (see Living and Working with Deaf Dogs, BARKS from the Guild, April 2014, p. 30-32), we looked at using a physical tap on the shoulder to redirect a barking or staring deaf dog’s attention. Sometimes we need something that will be more engaging and keep the deaf dog busy for longer than just eating one treat. Dropping a couple of treats behind you, then reaching in front of the deaf dog with the sweeping “search” sign will often bring the deaf dog round and get him working away from the trigger.

Deaf and part-blind Bronte stays closely connected to her handler as they work as a team to find the scent

BARKS from the Guild/September 2017


Positive Impact Beano: totally deaf and blind border collie Guardian: Clare Ross “TD Scentwork© has been an invaluable tool in helping Beano with his compulsive behavior (barking, spinning and tail biting). It provides him with regular mental stimulation and can even help to calm him down as it gives him a focus when his senses have been overwhelmed and he starts to spin or tail bite. In 2013, vets were considering amputating his tail as it was so badly damaged, but by using TD Scentwork© alongside other interventions we were able to significantly reduce instances of tail biting and save his tail.” Grub: deaf Sealyham terrier Guardian: Lisa Jarvis “I should probably state first off that Grub’s name comes partly from her love of using her nose to grub out delightful things to eat and roll in, so she is a natural for nose work. One of Grub’s favorite games has always been to search out a toy with an open arm shrug (our sign for ‘find it’), so after reading glowing reviews of Talking Dogs Scentwork workshops on the Deaf Dog Network Facebook page I was keen to give them a go. “First task, gather up cardboard boxes for the workshop. Second task, decide whether Grub would prefer to work for a toy or food. As other dogs were going to be present and active at the workshop, we opted for cheese. Powered by cheese, Grub and I have now completed Levels 1 and 2 and are looking forward to tackling Level 3. At both workshops Grub was the only deaf dog in the group but Pam, our instructor, had no hesitation in adapting the exercises to meet our need for non-verbal communication. In my opinion, it is an ideal activity for deaf dogs and their handlers due to the focus being on very much on watching the dog for the hints and tells that show you how they are getting on with the search. “With our ‘find it’ sign, Grub entered her first search with much enthusiasm and total focus, working the boxes until the cheese was hers, and this focus has continued as we’ve progressed through additional boxes, chairs and scents placed well above her head height. Air scenting is now a favorite and a reason for me to be thankful that I have a lightweight dog. “The joy of scentwork is not restricted to the workshops as we use our search skills in daily life, continuing to search for toys when out walking or in the garden and for food at home and when staying away. It’s an ideal mental workout if the weather is unfavorable for long walks or, as I often do, to give your dog something to focus on and forget any stressors or distractions. I think scentwork is a must for every dog and their owner but also feel it is particularly appropriate for deaf dogs and can help to further develop their focus and bond. My only warning is that no cardboard box is safe afterwards.” Sparkle: deaf Staffordshire terrier Currently in rescue but often handled by Maria Williams “I try to get Sparkle, a 4-year-old deaf Staffie, out of kennels as much as possible while she looks for her forever home. We have done a variety of activities like TD Rally©, Agility and TD Scent32

BARKS from the Guild/September 2017

Rescue dog Sparkle has been much more relaxed since she started engaging both her mind and body in scentwork activities

Horus has limited sight so his world is primarily scent; guardian Rosie Gibbs says that training in scentwork has given her access into his world

Maddie has age-related loss of vision: in scentwork, the handler’s job is to support their dog, suggest new places to look, and help with access to tricky finds

Grub and his guardian use their search skills in daily life, searching for toys when out walking or in the garden and for food at home

Photo: Rachel Watkins Photography


Horus: deaf collie mix Guardian: Rosie Gibbs “I have used variations of scentwork with Horus since he first came to me -- hiding his food around the house, scattering it in the garden, treasure hunts, etc. -- but it wasn’t until last year that we finally had the chance to use a more formal method, TD Scentwork©. I have learned a lot since then: how to hide things to challenge him (he likes lots of layers), and how to guide him whilst giving him space, but I found watching him to spot his signs fairly easy as I read him constantly anyway. “He is very clear in his communications to me, and we both really enjoy the challenge of working as a team - me making sure he searches everything, him hunting down the source of the scent. Our first course was when he had a severe leg injury that meant no walks, and it was wonderful to find a way to work his mind with very little physical stress. As he is older now (11) it is great to have a way to work together that is easier on him physically, and he really enjoys new challenges. “For us, it is a great way to push our communication further. For a newer partnership it would be brilliant for developing the lines of communication and learning to work as a team. “Horus has limited sight too so his world is primarily scent, and training in scentwork has given me access into his world. Learning to see what he smells according to his body language, I know when he is tracking, air scenting or on a find, and this translates to our normal walks too. It is great fun to recognize when he is tracking things. I know what scent he has according to his responses, and I can share the hunt with him. We take a pot of ginger cake on all our walks now, and find new ways to hide it for him to search out.” n

Find out more about TD Scentwork© at manual and DVDs are available to buy or download if you want to get started right away, or you can check for a workshop in your area. If you have any deaf dog specific questions on scentwork, please contact the author directly at When the handler sees their dog indicating, they step away and “ask the question” to allow him to confirm or reject their observation, an exchange that is an integral part of the search

Photo: Pam Mackinnon

work© to help her learn new skills and make her more attractive to potential adopters. “My scentwork journey started 18 months ago with my own hearing dog. However, I firmly believe that Sparkle can do everything my hearing dog does (and most of the time can do it better) so I wanted her to do scentwork too. I wanted to ensure that she got the best start to her scentwork journey so I booked us into Scent 1, where we learned to pair a scent (in her case cheese) with a specific cue. The method for teaching this involves the dog making eye contact with you so has been great for helping to reinforce her check-ins. She soon picked up this enjoyable new game and progressed to searching cardboard boxes during the workshop. “We have practiced scentwork outside of the workshop both in enclosed spaces and outside. It has been great for strengthening our bond and her trust in me (I suggest a place to search and there is cheese), which has had a knock-on effect on our other activities. Spotting her indications has helped me learn to read and understand her better and she is more in tune with my body language and subtle directional change signals now. She enjoys using her brain and nose to work out where her find is hidden and she is always really keen to start sniffing when her 'find it' signal is given. “The kennel staff have commented on how much more settled she is since we have started to exercise her brain as well as her body.”



Heirs, M. (2014, April). Living and Working with Deaf Dogs. BARKS from the Guild (7) 30-32. Retrieved July 11, 2017, from Heirs, M. (2015, January). Waving Loudly. BARKS from the Guild (10) 35-37. Retrieved March 13, 2017, from Morag Heirs PhD MSc MA (SocSci) (Hons) PGCAP is a companion animal behavior counselor who runs Well Connected Canine,, in York, UK, which offers small group classes, private lessons, behavior rehabilitation and workshops for trainers. She works with deaf and blind dogs professionally, and provides training and support for the Deaf Dog Network,, among other organizations.

BARKS from the Guild/September 2017



Training Games

In the first part of a two-part article, Eileen Gillan - inspired by her experience at PPG’s recent workshop in Tampa, Florida with London-based dog trainer, Kamal Fernandez -


discusses how to use games to train your dog faster

lay is more than just fun. It builds your relationship with your dog and is the best way to address the most common reasons dogs make training mistakes. So says Kamal Fernandez, who has trained champion dogs for 20 years in the United Kingdom and came to the United States recently to lead his two-day workshop, Foundation Skills for Dog Sports and Heel Work 101 at The DogSmith in Tampa, Florida. Kamal Fernandez (back row, second right with daughter, Neavey) and PPG workshop attendees (back row, left to right) “When you call Arlene Diamante with Riccio, Barbara Glancy with Woller, and Diana Klotz; (front row, left to right) Shari Barr with your dog and your dog Jake, Eileen Gillan, Robin Viele with Zeus, Bonnie L. Harrison with Wyn, Roma McDonaugh with Quinn, and ignores you, it tells you Carola Di Perna with Batchii that there is something more reinforcing than you are, and you work for? What works for one dog is different for another.You can fix that through play,” Fernandez says. “We want dogs to need to understand the currency your dog will work for. Fernanlearn that reinforcement comes from us.” dez recommends making a list of the top motivators for your When you disguise learning as a game, training is fun, memodog and ranking them. rable, and leaves lasting impressions with your dog. It is helpful to 3. Lack of Boundaries videotape your training sessions and watch them with the volDoes your dog respect you? As Fernandez puts it, “Is your ume off to see if your dog is really having fun.You can also see if dog a gentleman or a hooligan? Is your dog courteous and it looks like you are having fun. Dog training should be fun for aware? Does your dog have social skills?” If your answer to any everyone. of these questions is no, you can teach the dog that rewards are contingent on following your rules for the games you play. Five Reasons Dogs Make Mistakes 4. Lack of a Strong Dog-Owner Relationship When your dog training isn’t going well, it is important to idenIt is not uncommon for people to expect their new dog to tify the problem correctly first, and then you can come up with live up to a previous dog. As Fernandez says, “Rin Tin Tin is the games to solve the problem. Fernandez identifies five potential ultimate dog but Old Joe is much more common.” problems: 5. Lack of Physical Ability 1. Lack of Understanding Is your dog strong enough, physically fit, and physically healthy Sometimes the dog does not actually understand the task. enough for what you want him to do? When he suddenly cannot Dogs are not good at generalizing, i.e. taking what they have do something, look at possible physical reasons first. learned in one location and moving it to another, so you need to Games to Solve Problems and Build work on proofing: testing and challenging the dog in different loFoundation Skills cations. Teach verbal cues that overrule your body language. The The first three games detailed below will help dogs learn to pay game Simon Says is a good way to help dogs generalize a behavattention to you and understand that good things come from ior. watching you. They will also help your dog build resilience so he 2. Lack of Motivation can respond to your cues even when there are squirrels present. Have you provided a big enough reward for your dog to 34

BARKS from the Guild/September 2017


Five for Five Stand up, give the dog five treats. Stand up, touch nose, give the dog five treats. Stand up, touch nose, hand on belly with treats on it, give the dog five treats. Stand up, touch nose, hand on belly, feed the dog five treats but at different [time] intervals, i.e. 1.. 2.3… ..4..5.6… Tip: Add a word before you stand, e.g. “ready,” “steady,” “party time,” or “that will do.” This word can be your dog’s cue that the game is beginning, i.e. the training session is starting.

Disguising learning as a game makes training fun and leaves lasting impressions with the dog

I Spy This game teaches your dog to offer behaviors and watch you for reinforcement. Example: Stand up, wait for a behavior – anything the dog does – and reward it. Stand up – wait for a behavior – feed the dog, then ask him to do something else – feed. Stand up, get the dog moving, and then ask him for a behavior. Simon Says Simon Says tests how well your dog actually understands your cues and is another way to help him learn to respond to your verbal cues without reading your body language for hints. Veterinarian, behaviorist and dog trainer Ian Dunbar likes to tell trainers that they have not really taught their dog to sit. None of them believe him – until he tells them to turn their back on their dog and ask him to sit, and then lie on the ground and ask him to sit. It is a very humbling experience for trainers to learn how little their words really mean to their dogs, and how much their dogs rely on body language to figure out what you want them to do. This is what makes Simon Says such a good game to play in a group of trainers. One person is Simon and tells everyone else what to do. For example, Simon says, “Put your hand on your shoulder and ask your dog to sit.” Simon says, “Put your

hands on your hips and ask your dog to sit.” Simon says, “Touch your toes and ask your dog to sit.” Simon says, “Put a treat in your hand and touch the ground and ask your dog to sit.” Simon says, “Run in a circle, ask your dog to sit and keep running.” Simon says, “Do jumping jacks and ask your dog to sit.” Simon says, “Do the funky chicken and ask your dog to sit.” The next three games teach your dog to respond to his name instantly and build a strong recall. Many dogs don’t come when called because they don’t get called for anything they really want to do. Rather, they only get called when they are in a dog park, having the best of times, playing with all their doggy friends. To you, “come!” means come back to me so we can go home. To your dog, “come!” means the party’s over just when it was getting really good, and he has to leave all his friends and all the great sniffs just to go home and sit around. No wonder dogs don’t come when called. Before I was a dog trainer, I had a business called Happy Dog Adventures where I took small groups of compatible dogs on off-leash hikes. Only dogs with strong recall got to go on our adventures, and we hiked mainly on little-used trails where we rarely encountered other people or dogs. I learned early on that for some dogs, come was pretty much useless for bringing them back. Dunbar calls this a poisoned cue. If come has become a four letter word for your dog, you might be more successful if you choose another word for recall. The word I used was “meatballs.” I used to keep Trader Joe’s turkey meatballs in my freezer, and before I left for a hike I would take one out and microwave it and wrap it up in aluminum foil. One hot, juicy meatball was plenty of reinforcement for four dogs on a twoPPG’s workshop, hosted by Kamal Fernandez (with dog, crouching), focused on using games to solve hour hike. problems and build foundation skills When one of the dogs started to wander off, I would unwrap the aluminum foil and wave the meatball in the air and yell, “Meatballs!” and all the dogs came running. I only remember two times when “meatballs” failed to summon the dogs, BARKS from the Guild/September 2017



and in both cases, when the dogs finally showed up and I figured out what had kept them, I fully supported them in their tardiness. The first time, one of had them found a deer skeleton at the top of the ridge and the others had to check it out, of course. When I called them, they wanted to come, they really did, but they couldn’t leave those deer bones behind. It took all four of them working together to drag the entire skeleton down the hill to where I was waiting. The second time, all four dogs took off running in the same direction, down the hill to the creek. I had heard another dog barking from that direction but hadn’t thought much of it until they all ran off together. I knew they must know something I didn’t for all four of them to run off like that, so I ran after them. When I caught up with them, I saw someone else’s dog had jumped in the creek and couldn’t figure out how to get out. There was a log floating between him and the bank, and every time he tried to climb up on the log, it rolled and he fell off. I told the Lab with us to go and help the dog, and he did. He swam across the creek to the other dog, and then the other dog followed him when he swam around the log to the bank. True story. This is why I love positive reinforcement training so much as it gives dogs the chance to practice problem solving. Thus, when they need to figure out something for themselves, they are capable of making good choices. It also speaks to the strength of our relationship. But other than those two instances, whenever I yelled, “Meatballs!” those dogs came running, even if they had spotted a deer and were starting to chase it. They didn’t come because I was a great trainer – I didn’t know the first thing about training back then. But I knew how much dogs love meatballs so I called them back to me at random times just to give them a bit of meatball then sent them off to play again. In this way, they got lots of practice with recall, all of it positive, and when I really needed them to come to me, they did, because it had become a conditioned response (not that I knew what that was at the time). What, then, do you do if you are guilty of poisoning the “come” cue? I’ll be addressing this in Part Two of this article in the November issue of BARKS. n

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BARKS from the Guild/September 2017

If your dog ignores you when you call him, it tells you that there is something more reinforcing than you are, but you can fix that through play, Fernandez says

According to Fernandez, if dog training is not going well, it is important to identify the problem correctly so you can come up with a game to solve the problem


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.



The Challenge that Keeps on Giving

Marie Macher and her 8-year old Shih-poo Henry try out CleverPet, an interactive feeding game for cats and dogs

he premise of CleverPet is that it allows dogs and cats to stay mentally stimulated as they attempt to solve puzzles and gain food rewards. There are multiple levels, nine currently, for them to work through, with each level increasing in difficulty, and just like in human gaming, as a pet succeeds he is given access to a new level. According to the manufacturer’s website, the CleverPet Hub is “an entirely new way to engage your pet’s mind with puzzles that stay challenging.” It likens the product to a “game console” for your dog (or cat) that was “designed by neuroscientists who love animals,” and allows the owner to “provide continuous engagement for hours and hours every day.” How does it work then? Essentially, using three touch pads, dogs learn to hit specific pads which lead to a release of food or treats. CleverPet adjusts to an individual pet’s level and increases the level of difficulty as he masters a specific number of successful trials. A trial is defined as a pet’s attempt to solve the puzzle and gain access to the treat, and can end in success or failure. Note: As CleverPet adjusts to an individual pet’s performance, it can be difficult to use with multiple dogs. According to the manufacturer “it is not impossible,” although “if a level changes before both pets have had a chance to interact with it, one pet may have a harder time deciphering the newest puzzle.” Owners can connect to CleverPet via Wi-Fi, which allows them to see statistics of how often their dog has played the game, what level he is on, and weekly stats about his performance. The Apple iOS app is slightly more advanced than the Android and includes graphs and other statistics. However, this should be improved soon, according to CleverPet. When I introduced the CleverPet to Henry, my 8-year old Shih-poo, he quickly decided he was in love.

Challenge One – Eating the Food The beginning of Henry’s love story began with a little bit of “free food.” CleverPet could be intimidating to some dogs. It is larger than the average food bowl and can make some interesting noises as it mixes and releases the kibble and treats. Level One simply allows the pet to get acquainted with the actual device – delivering a few pieces of kibble randomly and ensuring he feels comfortable eating from it. Henry easily accepted the CleverPet, joyfully gobbling up the kibble each time the device dispensed a piece. Challenge Two – Exploring the Touch Pads CleverPet decided that Henry needed more of a challenge within a short time – about 10 minutes. There would be no more free food, at least not regularly. Henry would now have to touch one of the pads to receive his goodies. Periodically, if CleverPet felt

Henry quickly worked his way up to challenges presented at Level Seven by the CleverPet food puzzle toy

Henry was not engaging regularly, it would once again offer the free food to help draw him back in. This is fundamentally an automated training process of shaping by successive approximations. When Henry was no longer given the free food consistently, his nose and paws went to work and his mild frustration prompted him to sniff and paw at the device in an attempt to get more kibble. This led to his accidentally discovering that he must hit one of the pads – with his nose or paw – to receive the kibble. He quickly caught on and began to nose at the pads repeatedly. At this point Henry had not quite figured out the pads also needed to be lit up – he simply knew hitting them resulted in the goodies. He would sit, nosing at the pads, until it had reset the food and lit up allowing it to reopen (see video of Henry playing Level Two). Challenge Three – Engaging Consistently Being very food motivated, Henry had a hard time pulling himself away from the CleverPet. He quickly picked up on engaging consistently – not even wanting to wait until the lights had been reset. He would stare at the pads, nosing and pawing. In fact, this was the time he had to learn a bit of patience. While Henry plays with the CleverPet throughout the day, it was his interaction with the hub multiple times in a short period that allowed him to move on to the next level (see video of Henry playing Level Three). Challenge Four – Avoiding Dim Touchpads After about a day, Henry had mastered Level Three and again needed more of a challenge. He had figured out that hitting the pads was the answer to getting food, but had not quite connected that he needed to hit the pad that was lit up. Level Four BARKS from the Guild/September 2017



allowed him to begin to make this connection. Instead of all three pads being lit and providing him with food if he touched them, only two were lit up. This proved to be more of a challenge as often Henry enjoyed lying down next to his CleverPet but would simply want to press the pads closest to his nose. At this level, this strategy was only partially successful. When Henry touched the wrong pad, the CleverPet would make a noise, a no reward mark (NRM), rather than the usual bridging stimulus beep and opening of the food bin. There are varying schools of thought on the use of the NRM in dog training, but here it served to alert him that he needed to try again. It was these moments you could truly see him thinking and learning. He would sit up, cock his head, and stare at the CleverPet attempting to decipher what step to take next (see video of Henry playing Level Four). Challenge Five – Learning the Lights Henry had now begun to understand that the puzzle is solved by touching specific pads. The next step is to focus on the lights specifically. In other words, he had to learn the importance of the lights as no longer would two pads be lit. At this level the challenge is increased with only one lit pad leading to a reward. Once again, Henry was able to master this challenge in about a day (see video of Henry playing Level 5).

Henry worked out for himself that the CleverPet food puzzle is solved by touching specific pads when they light up

Challenge Six – Mastering the Lights Now, not only must Henry hit the lit pad, but he must master the lights by hitting them accurately and consistently approximately 80 percent of the time in a burst of 50 plays. Henry spent quite a bit of time at this level and I must admit, I wasn’t sure if we would ever move on. He always had fun and seemed interested and engaged in it as opposed to becoming frustrated or bored. While he was accurate, it appeared that he just was not playing consistently enough in the set period. He eventually made it though and after exactly 30 days he was promoted to the next challenge. Challenge Seven – Responding Quickly This is Henry’s current level. He must respond quickly to the lights and is being introduced to having to hit multiple lights before he gets his kibble. He thus hits a light pad and then must hit another pad to get his goodies and do it quickly. If he takes too long, he will hear his NRM and have to wait for the hub to reset again. Henry seems to be enjoying this stage so far and we will see how long it takes him to progress to the next level (see video of Henry playing Level 7).

The Future Challenges

Ultimately, there are nine challenges currently available. The final two levels include Learning Brightness and Learning Sequences. Learning Brightness includes having multiple pads lit up with differing levels of brightness and the pet must choose the pad that is brighter. Learning Sequences includes the pet following various sequences of lights before receiving the reward. CleverPet also continues to beta test new levels and investigate potential new features. 38

BARKS from the Guild/September 2017

Pet owners are able to track their pet’s progress online, including what level they are on, and weekly stats about their performance

TRAINING Common Patterns

Henry is truly in love with CleverPet. At times, I have been rejected – he looks at me and then happily trots to the CleverPet instead. Henry struggles with anxiety and can often get restless. It has been common for him to wander over to the CleverPet when he cannot seem to settle. It appears that after engaging and playing with the CleverPet he has been able to release some of his anxious energy and become calmer so he can settle more easily. The past two years, I have spent periods working with him to find ways to help him relax and settle but have not been able to achieve as much as I would have liked due to his anxiety, so seeing him engage with this and tire himself out has really been wonderful. Henry loves checking on CleverPet after walks or other outings and will often run straight over to it when we walk in the door and get himself a treat. At times, I will have left bowls of food out for him, but he consistently chooses to obtain his food via the CleverPet and plays until he feels tired or full. This is known as contrafreeloading, when an animal chooses to work for his food rather than obtain if for free.

The Second Dog

In our home, there is a second dog, Harper. Harper is a 9-yearold Shih-poo. Currently, CleverPet access is restricted to Henry unless I am at home to observe both dogs interacting with it. When not home, the CleverPet stays in Henry’s X-pen. If you have multiple dogs and any of them show resource guarding tendencies, I suggest giving only one pet access at a time. Both dogs in my household interact with the CleverPet when I am present and supervising, and they have learned to take turns. When one is playing with it, the other will patiently wait their turn (most of the time). Harper did not go through all the CleverPet levels – missing the first one in particular – so his reinforcement history with it is weaker. There may also be individual preferences. Henry appears to be madly in love and mastered the first few levels before Harper began to play. Therefore, Harper’s interactions tend to be a bit more sporadic – simply investigating it when he walks by and perhaps earning a few treats through accidental correct touches to the pads. While Henry plays, Harper will often decide that it is “Harper and mom time” since Henry will not interrupt. My dogs have learned to take turns when snuggling and training so this sharing behavior has generalized to the CleverPet.

Overall Impressions

The CleverPet gets four out of four paws up! Henry has had a blast playing with it and I have had a ton of fun watching him decipher the puzzles. It is not without issues, however. Being an electronic item, at times the hub can get stuck. It will give a specific light code as to what is going on and CleverPet can help via their support with how to address it. This has only happened to me once so far and it was an easy fix of just resetting the hub. The pads are also very sensitive and if you have a slobbery pup, they will need to be cleaned regularly or this can lead to incorrect touches being recorded. The CleverPet Facebook page offers a great amount of sup-

The CleverPet can be used with more than one dog, but if any of the dogs has a tendency to resource guard only one at a time should have access

port from other users and staff. If you are active enough on the Facebook page, you might lucky enough to be invited to a special private-user-group where user discussions occur about challenges, successes, suggestions for future challenges, and beta testing! Henry has really enjoyed having the CleverPet and cannot wait to continue to enjoy new challenges. n


Macherification. (2017, February 15). Henry and the CleverPet (Level 2) [Video File]. Retrieved July 12, 2017, from Macherification. (2017, February 17). Henry CleverPet (Level 3) [Video File]. Retrieved July 12, 2017, from /htjhdI6lI8U Macherification. (2017, February 28). CleverPet Level 4 [Video File]. Retrieved July 12, 2017, from Macherification. (2017, March 24). Henry CleverPet – Level 5 [Video File]. Retrieved July 12, 2017, from /L8EZuhiGp3U Macherification. (2017, March 26). Henry – Responding Quickly (Level 7) [Video File]. Retrieved July 12, 2017, from


CleverPet: CleverPet Facebook page:

Marie Macher currently works at Courteous Canine Inc., DogSmith of Tampa,, where she teaches basic manners, puppy kindergarten, trick training, swim lessons, and dock jumping. She is committed to educating others about force-free training and having fun with their pets.

BARKS from the Guild/September 2017



Calling on Citizen Scientists

BARKS from the Guild speaks with PPG special counsel Professor Paul McGreevy about research app doglogbook, which educates and empowers dog owners to implement


best practices in training and husbandry, while capitalizing on the data provided

ate last year, the University of Sydney, Australia launched its new science of “dogmanship” – a term coined by PPG special counsel Prof. Paul McGreevy who heads the university’s Faculty of Veterinary Science – via a two-part nationwide television event, Making Dogs Happy Part 1 and Making Dogs Happy Part 2. Debuted at prime time on science-based show, Catalyst, the initiative was an instant hit for the Australian Broadcasting Commission and also for Prof. McGreevy, his team and, most importantly of all, pet dogs in Australia.

What is Dogmanship? Although the human-canine partnership spans back over millennia, dysfunctional relationships and their negative consequences (such as unwelcome behaviors and eventual relinquishment), unfortunately, persist. This is true perhaps now more than ever as people may expect their dogs to simply fit in with their busy lifestyles and understand automatically how to behave. However, human behavior also affects dogs’ behavior and emotional states, and can be pivotal to the success or failure of any dog-human team. Good dogmanship taps into an individual’s ability to interact with and train their dog humanely and effectively, and involves implementing best practices in dog-human interactions. Indeed, it is key to a dog’s success in his role as a companion or co-worker to his human(s). At the same time, through dogmanship, researchers aim to identify the human attributes that influence canine behavior the most in order to find optimal ways for people to interact with their dogs. Citizen Science The vehicle through which much of the dogmanship research is being conducted is the free app, doglogbook, which has been designed by the animal welfare scientists working with Prof. McGreevy. By drawing on the science of dogmanship, the app aims to help owners ensure optimal quality of life from puppyhood through to old age. To date, there are over 10,000 people worldwide contributing to the research through the use of doglogbook. Doglogbook allows owners to log health-related issues (e.g. frequent urination or problematic behaviors), management and preferences. Owners and care givers can then share access to their dog’s records to give veterinarians, behavior consultants and trainers a better insight into the dog's everyday behavior between consultations. The app also allows owners to schedule and log routine health-related events, such as parasite control. For example, a reminder will pop-up on the user’s smartphone when it is time for their dog’s intestinal worming, or when prescribed medication is due. For working dogs, there is a section that tracks training investment and assessment outcomes for dogs working as scent detection, guide/seeing eye, livestock herding, guard/protection dogs, or racing greyhounds. A seizure log is included so owners of epileptic dogs can record 40

BARKS from the Guild/September 2017

Prof. Paul McGreevy of the University of Sydney, Australia coined the term “dogmanship” to optimize the way people interact with their dogs

seizures in real time and their vet can access the information outside consultations to review frequency and type. The app also includes a cognitive decline checklist that may be filled in monthly or bi-weekly to help track older dogs over time. As such, it provides a way to measure and improve quality of life for the full life cycle of the dogs we share our lives with. Doglogbook also has a “puppy socialization suite” to guide owners toward appropriate activities for their pups. The section is gamified to increase engagement and reward owners for seeking out novel experiences during the critical socialization period. It can work in conjunction with puppy preschool or as a means of logging, say, when a puppy has traveled somewhere, visited different types of environments and met a range of people and other animals. “Dogs can easily be socialized so they do not display the common behavioral problems that relate to fear and anxiety – which is where the doglogbook comes in, guiding owners as they socialize their pups, making pups more worldly and potentially even saving their lives,” said Prof. McGreevy. “The data generated by users of doglogbook, as valued citizen scientists, will be available to researchers and also used to inform and educate the next generation of veterinarians.” The doglogbook’s combined features are aimed at helping owners become more mindful of their dog’s overall well-being. If, for example, an activity a dog has previously enjoyed ceases to be enjoyable, it may prompt a visit to the veterinary clinic for a checkup. It may also help to remove some of the pressure from owners when identifying and acknowledging decline as their dog nears the end of life. Owners can gather and review real data about their dog’s happiness in life for the first time. The key message is that owners, trainers and vets should not be overwhelmed by the breadth of possibilities that doglogbook offers them. They can use it to record as


BARKS from the Guild Exclusive Q&A with Prof. Paul McGreevy

BARKS from the Guild: What are the main barriers to pet dog owners adopting dogmanship?

Prof. Paul McGreevy: Humility in accepting that we can always improve and therefore, by inference, we are not perfect. Also, the ability to accept the merits of being a reflective practitioner who takes at least as much responsibility for the dog’s behavior as she places on the dog himself. BARKS: What are the main barriers to pet dog owners adopting the positive reinforcement approach to training?

PM: Patriarchy, coercion and the military origins of animal training are legacies that we are still shedding as we accept that ani-

many or as few events and responses as they wish. Spending time on the associated online dashboard helps professionals appreciate the true power of this tool. Doglogbook information can feed into VetCompass, Australia’s national opt-in pet surveillance system for vets. Data from VetCompass, which was first trialed in the United Kingdom by Prof. McGreevy and colleagues almost a decade ago, shows the main killers of dogs under three years of age both relate to behavioral problems – being abandoned or euthanized because they display unwelcome behavior, and being involved in car accidents. Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) chief scientist and strategy officer, Dr. Bidda Jones, said Australian RSPCA national statistics revealed that in almost 70 percent of cases where a dog had to be humanely euthanized, it was due to severe behavioral issues. “The main risk to young dogs’ lives is not distemper or parvo virus - it’s actually unwelcome behaviors, such as fearfulness and aggression,” said Dr. Jones. “This outcome can be avoided in most cases by strengthening the human-animal bond and helping pet owners to

Doglogbook allows owners to track their dog’s health, behavior and activities from puppyhood to old age and share the information with their veterinarian and pet care provider(s).The data also assists animal welfare scientists aiming to improve dogs’ overall quality of life through owner participation as citizen scientists

mals have not evolved to please us. Once these obstacles are out of the picture, the only barriers are the challenges of learning to read dogs correctly and respond to the cascade of information they offer on what they value and how they learn. BARKS: How can we help to overcome these barriers?

PM: Educational materials and safe learning opportunities that avoid owners being embarrassed by their naivety or lack of dogmanship. Also, so-called edutaintment that showcases the mechanisms of ethical training rather than just the finished article with a veneer of anthropomorphic (i.e. he loves to win) and anthropocentric (i.e. he loves to please) nonsense.

better understand and improve their dog’s behavior, especially through socialization. Dogs that are stable in temperament and well-socialized have a much better chance of living out their lives safely and happily with their owners. If doglogbook can help with that, by guiding pets and owners through socialization activities and introducing new experiences, then that’s certainly a good thing from the RSPCA’s point of view and something that all dog owners should be looking at.” n

Download doglogbook free from iTunes and the Google App store or go to


Australian Broadcasting Commission (2016, September 6). Making Dogs Happy Part 1 [Television Series Episode]. Retrieved May 9, 2017, from Australian Broadcasting Commission (2016, September 13). Making Dogs Happy Part 2 [Television Series Episode]. Retrieved May 9, 2017, from McGreevy, P. (2017). Doglogbook Podcast [Audio File]. Retrieved May 9, 2017, from

BARKS from the Guild/September 2017



The Problem with Pain

Angelica Steinker details her border collie Power’s iliopsoas injury, the impact it had on his


behavior, and the many differences once the pain had been treated

don’t know when it began, sometimes I think he may have always had it. Other times I think he may have acquired the injury gradually. The truth is that I will never know. My border collie, Power, injured his iliopsoas bilaterally, and via ultrasound, the specialist was able to see that the left side was chronically inflamed and the right side was acutely injured. The iliopsoas is one of several hip flexor muscles located in front of the pelvis and above the femur in the inner thigh. Chronic refers to an injury that has formed scar tissue because it is older than six months. Acute refers to a more recent injury. My reaction to the diagnosis was immediate denial. I had heard of this injury and everyone I knew who had experienced it with their dogs spoke of it with horror. I read articles and sought out experts and the consensus was that I would not find a dog in the United States that had suffered from a chronic iliopsoas injury and recovered. The onset of Power’s injury had been completely unclear. I could not pinpoint a specific “moment of injury” but I was aware of a moment where Power refused to fully bear weight on his left hind leg. Prior to this there had been no lameness, and yet the ultrasound showed the injury was already chronic. I had unknowingly been playing disc, running agility and doing dock jumping with a lame dog. Apparently, there were warning signs, most of which I missed. I will go into this further in a moment. One sign I did not miss, however, was that Power started jumping with a tiny bit more hang time over every agility jump. Hang time is the amount of time the dog spends in the air. At some point, his hang time had begun to increase and became noticeable to me. I asked every agility guru I knew what they thought, and no one thought it was a significant change. None of us could have known the truth, which was that Power was seriously injured and compensating as a result. Deception is a natural phenomenon. In nature, many mammals will mask injury to avoid being preyed upon. I had always considered Power a “typical male,” -- very “ouchy” and “soft,” but what I have learned is that the opposite is true: this dog is so high drive that he will run agility competitively while masking a severe injury. I thought I knew my dog, when in reality he had already acquired a severe injury. Bear in mind that I work on my dogs’ muscles and have been trained by rehabilitation vets on conditioning my dogs. I stretch the dogs and warm them up. I cool them down. I avoid strenuous methods of training. I work hard to avoid excessive repetition. I massage them. When they lie next to me I constantly run my hands on their bodies -- and yet I did not know. I do not know why Power “deceived” me, I suspect that he wanted to play so badly that he masked the pain. Or maybe the onset of the pain was so gradual that it “shaped” him 42

BARKS from the Guild/September 2017

High drive border collie Power, now pain-free, started to compensate during agility to mask the fact that he had a serious injury

into gradually accepting it. The iliopsoas is a deep groin muscle.Vets and canine massage therapists will tell you it is not an easy muscle to locate, and in terms of massage, or cold laser treatments, it is very difficult to target. I tried anyway. I purchased a cold laser, a rehabilitation device that uses a laser to promote the healing of soft tissue. I started treating Power per my vet every other day, but while he improved he would not stay sound. We tried acupuncture. We went to a veterinarian who was also certified in acupuncture. She tried to insert a needle and Power screamed and acted like she was killing him. She stated that she had smaller “pediatric” needles and would try one of those. Again, drama ensued and this kind and patient vet explained that she had “infant-sized” needles and that she would try one of those. This attempt also led to Power screaming and the vet proclaiming, “Power is not a candidate for acupuncture.” At the time, my conclusion was that he was an overly sensitive dog with a low pain threshold. I was wrong. Fast forward several years, Power is still intermittently lame on the left and right hind and also sporadically sore in his shoulders. While most of the lameness is on the left hind it moves around to different body parts. Sometimes it is his toe, sometimes his hamstring, and so on. Power is unable to do agility con-

sistently, and can only sporadically compete or attend a group class. Camps and seminars are out of the question. His rehab vet, Tampa, Florida-based Dr. Jen Brown, recommended an MRI. This type of scan can clearly assess soft tissue. Knowing this procedure would cost $3,000 she was hesitant to proceed, but I will be eternally grateful that we did. The MRI showed that Power’s iliopsoas injury was not healed, and that the femoral nerve was being pinched by the scar tissue from the groin injury. We finally had an answer for why he had intermittent left hind lameness. The right hind lameness would likely occur because he was shifting more weight to that leg to stay off the left hind. The shoulders where getting sore from Power “hiking.” The video Power Hiking demonstrates this behavior. This hiking behavior radically increased when Power was in pain to the point of where it was causing soft tissue injury to his shoulders and lower neck. If I failed to cue him or use a conditioned positive interrupter, Power would literally hike his blanket for hours. I believe he was probably hiking to distract himself from the nerve pain in his groin. An MRI showed that Power’s The neurologist who did original iliopsoas injury had not healed, and that the Power’s MRI and found the femoral nerve was being pinched nerve was Dr. Chris pinched by the scar tissue from the groin injury Levine of SCAN in Sarasota, Florida and Power is his number one fan. Finally knowing what the problem was was important, but the severity of this condition and treatment options were very limited. One option was to surgically cut the iliopsoas so that it no longer pressed on the nerve. This however would cause permanent lameness in the left hind so Dr. Brown immediately dismissed the idea. The second option was to obtain cultured stem cells (when Power had originally gone lame I had paid for stem cell collection and storage so we knew we could get his stem cells if we needed them.) The third option was shock wave therapy, which is a painful process that requires sedation that can sometimes promote soft tissue healing. Both the second and third options were experimental and Dr. Brown explained that the use of the stem cells, while providing only a 50/50 chance of recovery, were her recommendation. Stem cell therapy is not without risk. It is new and experimental but my personal opinion, based on Power’s experience, is that this treatment likely holds great promise for all of us. Within weeks, Power seemed much improved. Here is a list of all the initial changes in behavior I observed: • His baseline facial expression became more relaxed. • His body became softer and more relaxed. • He started to sleep more and more deeply. • He started to relax more and more deeply.


• He offered more eye contact and held that eye contact much longer. • The glazed look that he had in his eyes disappeared. After six weeks of Xpen rest he was allowed to start very short leash walks. This new freedom also allowed him to do sits and downs. I observed the following changes in behavior: • His heeling was significantly improved without any training. Duration, focus and accuracy were significantly improved. • Sits and downs were more fluent with minimal latency. • He began to offer sits at the door to “ask” to go outside. • He was able to learn a very simple stationary trick. Previously, if I tried to teach him a new behavior he would disengage. I never forced him to comply and would just work to try to be more fun and find something that he could do. Despite this stress response to learning new cues, Power was chasing his disc and able to do agility -- all with a pinched nerve. As I could increase Power’s activity, more behavior changes followed: • He stopped blinking at me when I gave him cues. When in pain, Power had developed increased sound sensitivity to the point where I had to whisper any cues I gave him. If I whispered he complied, whereas if I used my normal voice he glazed over and blinked at me. Post stem cell therapy I could use my normal tone of voice and see bright eyes and a relaxed face. • While he was suffering from the pinched nerve pain I could no longer use a clicker. Even a very soft clicker that was a special gift from San Diego, California-based dog trainer, Emily Larlham, would stress him out. • In addition to engaging in obsessive hiking, Power would frantically jump on people and face dive them. While this was embarrassing, especially as a dog behavior consultant, I never corrected him. My gut feeling was that something was off and that he was doing it for a reason. Today I can say that this behavior was a type of alert. Power was asking for help. To my friends who got “bombed,” I am so sorry, and I am happy to say that Power will gently greet you now. • His motivation to hike is almost completely absent. If he does start to hike he is easily redirected. • His ability to tolerate nail trims greatly increased. While in pain, nail trimming had become increasingly aversive for both of us. I spent much time driving to Home Depot to make nail trim contraptions or purchasing different nail trimming tools, all to no avail. Now, post treatment, he would consent test “yes” and allow me to trim up to three nails in a day. In addition, the displacement behavior of hiking after a nail being trimmed disapBARKS from the Guild/September 2017



peared. • I noticed that I could move Power from one side of my body to the other by rolling him over my chest. During the painful time, Power would Post stem cell consent treatment, Power test “no” if is able to fully I asked to extend both hind legs move him. • In addition, he started to sleep upside down next to me with his head in my arm pit, something I had not seen him do for years. • Finally, the biggest surprise was his fetch behavior. While in pain, Power would fail to return the toy back to me and instead engage in repetitive behaviors with the toy. Spontaneously, and without any training, Power started to voluntarily deliver the fetch toy again! Power’s injury presents all of us with an ethical dilemma. Can a humane hierarchy that allows for an escalation toward aversive stimulation be humane? Few people can make the financial sacrifices that I made for Power. I don’t have children, I don’t go on vacation, and I don’t travel. I happily spent the money to help my dog but this is not a realistic option for most families. In the absence of the MRI it would not have been known that Power had a pinched nerve, which was causing him tremendous pain. Instead, some might have argued that Power was “choosing to have his trainer climb the humane hierarchy.” Bearing this in mind, Power and I share this story in the hope that more trainers and behavior consultants will opt to search for answers instead of resorting to negative reinforcement and positive punishment. n


Steinker, A. (2017, June 3). Power Hiking [Video File]. Retrieved July 10, 2017, from 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 44

BARKS from the Guild/September 2017


The Low-Down on Group Play

In Part Two of this two-part article, Lauri Bowen-Vaccare sets out an assessment protocol

s outlined in the first part of this article, there are a number of minimum standards I recommend boarding and day care facilities implement to ensure both canine clients and staff stay safe at all times during group play sessions (see Playing It Safe, BARKS from the Guild, July 2017, p. 38-39). I will now set out an actual assessment protocol for group play as well as some guidelines for the play areas themselves.

Not all dogs in day care and boarding facilities will be suitable - or enjoy group play and handlers must be able to understand the intricacies of canine behavior to ascertain this © Can Stock Photo Inc./steffstarr


for group play sessions in boarding and day care facilities

Group Play Assessment Protocol

#1. Group play assessment is only available for dogs who meet safety, behavioral and emotional health requirements per the facility’s determination. For example, intact dogs as well as those who have bitten other dogs are not suitable for group play with dogs with whom they do not live; shy or overly exuberant dogs may not qualify for group play with dogs with whom they do not live. • Handlers must be well versed in dog-dog meet and greets, communication (body language, facial expressions and vocalizations), as well as know how and when to appropriately respond to those signals. • Handlers must be appropriately educated and trained to understand the dynamics and intricacies of dog behavior when handling multiple dogs who do not live together. Examples of unsafe and inappropriate handling include, but are not limited to: crowding, bending over, grabbing, tugging/pulling away, leash jerking, spraying with water, scolding/yelling, hugging, poking, scruffing, pulling, pushing, dragging, spanking, and “alpha rolling.” Examples of safe and appropriate handling include, but are not limited to: luring dogs from one spot to another with food or physical movement of one’s body, using leashes without dragging the dog, providing ample space for dogs to remove themselves from a situation, allowing dogs to leave the immediate play area, giving physical affection only when a dog desires it, and removing physical affection when a dog asks.

#2. Some dogs will require several hours or visits before they qualify for group activities. • Start with two dogs at a time, a neutral dog and the new dog. Two handlers will be required. The owners of the neutral/test dog must have provided permission to the facility to use their dog for this purpose. Multiple test dogs are ideal, since even the most neutral dogs can get tired from being used in such a manner. • The dogs should be off-leash, on opposite sides of a fence. Give the dogs plenty of time to sniff, walk away, lie down, drink, and calmly relax within sight of the other. • If all is going well, next, the dogs should be on leash, in a large fenced area with two handlers. Whether the dogs are leashed will vary, and will be determined by the dogs’ needs and the most experienced handler with the most knowledge and hands-on training in dog-dog greetings, dog communication, and multi-dog handling. Here as an example of how the exchange may be carried out in the event that both dogs remain under

threshold and in a positive emotional state: • The neutral dog is walked away from the gate. • The new dog enters. • The handlers walk the dogs parallel to one another, in the same direction. • The handlers gradually decrease distance between the dogs. If the dogs want to get closer, handlers can allow them to sniff the air before asking them to sniff one another. • Leashes are to remain loose. • The dogs have three to five seconds of sniffing each other. • Leashes are to remain loose and untangled. • Handlers will then call the dogs away, walk away and repeat a few times. • Handlers may release the leashes when the dogs indicate they are ready for a more intimate meeting. • Handlers may allow sniffing, walking away, play, etc. • Handlers may call the dogs away from play briefly to relax, interact with the handler or get a drink, and then allow them to play again. • Add new dogs to the group in the same manner, one at a time, gradually working in previously-met dogs with whom the new dog gets along. A new dog should always meet other dogs one at a time, and never be put into a group of dogs, especially if the other dogs are already familiar with one another.

Group Play

#1. All harnesses, collars and head halters are to be removed before a dog is allowed into group play. • Many facilities remove flat collars as well. • Some facilities require owners to provide a break away collar for their dog. • Many facilities remove collars and harnesses even if a BARKS from the Guild/September 2017



dog does not participate in group play, for safety purposes.

#3. Dogs whose ears have been recently cropped, or tails docked, and are still wearing bandages are not suitable for group play.

#4. Dogs who have recently had surgery, and still have staples or stitches, are not suitable for group play. • If boarding of these dogs is necessary, facilities should consider strongly urging the dog’s owner to board them at their vet’s office to ensure proper supervision of the wound, as this is not possible at a boarding facility, nor is it the responsibility of the staff.

#5.There must be at least one staff member, who has been trained in dog-dog communication and handling, actively supervising with the dogs at all times, with no more than 10 dogs per human, at most. Active supervision is defined as being physically present with the dogs. • Ideally, there should be no more than four to six large dogs in a group, depending on the size of the play area, and they should have been assessed per previously aforementioned protocols for suitability with one another, and the handler’s abilities. • Ideally, there should be no more than eight to 10 small dogs in a group, depending on the size of the play area, and they should have been assessed per previously aforementioned protocols for suitability with one another, and the handler’s abilities. • The handler’s experience and skill level will also determine the number of dogs allowed in a group, and less experienced/skilled staff members should begin supervising groups of two, gradually working up to handling larger groups. #6.Handlers must be well versed in appropriate dog play.

#7. Handlers must be well versed in dog-dog meet and greets, communication (body language, facial expressions and vocalizations), as well as know how and when to appropriately respond.

#8. Handlers must fully understand how to physically handle dogs. This means no crowding, bending over, grabbing, tugging/pulling away, leash jerking, spraying with water, scolding/yelling, hugging, poking, scruffing or “alpha rolling.”

#8. Dogs are to be prevented from becoming overly aroused by being called out of play, every now and then by the supervising staff member. Dogs can be directed to get a drink or lie down.

#9. Dogs who habitually bark at other dogs, on opposite sides of fencing, or fence-fight are not to be placed in a play area where they can perform these behaviors. #10. Intact dogs are not suitable for group play.

Play Yard and Indoor Play Spaces

#1.There should be at least 70 to 100 square feet of space per dog, depending on the size of the dogs. 46

BARKS from the Guild/September 2017

© Can Stock Photo Inc./steffstarr

#2. Dogs wearing Elizabethan collars, or other recovery/postop/no-bite collars are not suited for play time for their own safety, as well as the safety of other guests.They can mingle with dogs with whom they live, with approval from the owner (in some cases, the dog wearing the recovery collar may not be allowed to do so to prevent injury or physical activity).

Outdoor fencing at boarding and day care facilities should be at least 6 feet high and securely anchored to the ground

#2.The dogs must have access to clean water at all times. • There should be multiple water bowls available to prevent crowding. • Water bowls are to be rinsed and refreshed throughout the day as needed. • Bowls should be made of pet-specific nylon/plastic or stainless steel. • Bowls should be emptied before staff leaves for the night, and clean bowls should be put out in the morning with fresh water.

#3. Dogs should always have access to shade. • There should be enough room so that dogs can have approximately six or more feet of personal space around themselves.

#4. If the yard or play space looks big enough for the number of dogs in it, staff should consider removing a dog or two (or more) to give everyone more than enough space.The dogs may really love their day care and the dogs with whom they are playing, but it is not home, and dogs tend to respond differently to different situations at day care than they would in their own back yard or living room.

#5. If there is floor covering in the indoor play space, it should be secured so that it cannot slide around, wrinkle, trip the dogs, get caught in teeth or rip. • Heavy duty rubber flooring that is specifically designed for boarding and day care facilities is available for those which choose to use floor covering.

#6. If there are multiple play areas, gates between them must be able to be locked and the locks should be able to be secured further, by staff, in case any of the dogs are able to unlock them. • Gates should always be locked when dogs are in these areas. • Some facilities have a lock system between play areas in case a dog bolts from a play area. • Barriers and fencing should be tall enough so that dogs cannot jump out, climb out, or interact with other dogs or humans outside of their immediate play area. Barriers and fencing

should be secure to the floor or ground so that dogs cannot make their way under it. • If the grade of the land on which the fence was installed allows gaps between the fencing and the ground, then additional barrier materials must be fastened to the fencing at these areas.

#7. Outdoor fencing should be at least six feet in height. • All fencing should be properly anchored into the ground with posts and footers that meet or exceed local building and fencing regulations, including privacy fencing or panels that have been attached to chain link, or other form of fencing.

#8. Certain landscaping aspects or recreational activity-related construction that may be safe at home, are not safe in congregative areas where multiple dogs gather and play, especially since some of these dogs will not be familiar with these features. • Examples include, but are not limited to, large loose or unsecure rocks, surfaces that become slippery when wet but are not given time to dry before use, in-ground pools, statues or sculptures, plants that are known to be toxic to dogs, metal or other surfaces that can reach very hot temperatures to which dogs have access to walk or lie, garden accessories like flags and gnomes, bug zappers, high walls or other surfaces from which dogs can jump, etc.

#9. Urine should be immediately cleaned, if accidents occur inside. Feces should be immediately scooped and properly disposed of. #10. Outdoor ground cover should be very easily freshened/cleaned, maintained and cleaned of waste.


• If pet-specific turf materials are used, proper cleaning and sanitization practices must be employed daily to prevent development of mold, mildew, fungus, etc., and spread of disease. • Concrete surfaces must be sealed and cleaned as noted above.

#11. Kiddie pools must be rinsed and refreshed throughout the day as needed. • Pools are to be placed on solid, level surfaces to help prevent injury. • Pools should be emptied before staff leaves for the night, and refilled with fresh water the following morning. • Pools should be replaced if they crack or break, to prevent injury. • Pools must be cleaned daily and sanitized at least once a week. n


Bowen-Vaccare, L. (2017, July). Meeting the Standard. BARKS from the Guild (25) 38-39. Retrieved July 10, 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.

If you enjoy teaching your dog tricks and novel behaviors If you strive for precision in obedience skills If you want to use progressive, modern training techniques If you are looking for an enjoyable and supportive competitor experience If you want to strengthen the working relationship between you and your dog Give Rally-Free a try! Rally-FrEe is a unique sport that combines the trick behaviors of

Canine Musical Freestyle with the structure and format of Rally-O Obedience. It emphasizes precise execution of fundamental freestyle & obedience skills while encouraging creative & novel behaviors.


Curiously Reinforcing

Lara Joseph draws on her experience training exotics starting with calm and predictability


then shaping change to encourage curiosity - which she can then use as a reinforcer

train a lot of different types of animals, primarily exotics. Of those exotics, a large percentage of them are prey animals. Something that might be a reinforcer for a predator, such as the pace in which the delivery of the reinforcer is given, could easily be an aversive or positive punisher for a prey animal, and this is something that causes me to rely heavily on understanding body language during training. Many of the animals that come to me for training have a wide variety of histories and experiences: young, old, enriched environments, unenriched environments, imprinted or parent-raised; some have been trained with methods that use aversives and force, and others come in with a history of being trained with positive reinforcement. This wide variety of backgrounds often goes hand-in-hand with labels such as “unpredictable,” and inconsistency in training and approach can easily lead people to say such things. Imagine, however, the animal’s perspective. Understanding individual behavior, reading body language, and keeping initial approaches as predictable as possible is all part of this, and so important for the working relationship to flourish. When I begin working with an animal, the first thing I do is observe him in his environment, preferably one which is comfortable and familiar. This way I can immediately begin reading what calm looks like. With the majority of exotics I work with, I go to the various facilities and work with the animals in their usual living spaces. Only a very small percentage come to my center for training, and, of those that do, it can take much longer to be able to read what calm, nervous, anxious, scared, comfortable, play, and curiosity look like. This just means I need to take more time letting an animal acclimate to his new environment before I begin actively training. One thing I always look for, and I get excited when I see it, is an animal’s curiosity. When I realize I’m working with a curious animal, I know I have an opportunity to build my list of reinforcers to use with him. When I am approaching an animal that is curious to find what I have with me, what my intentions are and so on, it also provides another way for him to learn about my body language and tone of voice. Many times I see curiosity punished by people who assume an animal should be comfortable with certain things, but working with an animal in a cage or enclosure, approaching him, and pushing past his comfort levels can quickly punish any curiosity. In fact, it is often flooding (i.e. an animal is faced with a feared object with no opportunity to escape). Sometimes people do not even realize this is what is happening, at least until behavioral issues start to appear as a result. The signs of punishing curiosity can be seen more easily in prey animals such as birds, as they will simply turn and fly away, if they can. Falling off of perches is another sign of flooding. Working with both predators and prey can quickly result in behaviors 48

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Puzzles the giraffe is being trained to put the requested leg on a block for hoof trimming

that are labeled as “aggressive,” such as biting, head swiping, lunging, and grabbing. Sometimes I make the mistake of pushing an animal past his comfort level and see some of these consequences. I make sure I quickly identify them, take note of the antecedents, and try my hardest to not repeat my behavior. Otherwise, what am I training exactly? When curiosity is punished I also see behaviors labeled as “phobic” start to escalate. For example, an animal begins to develop overgeneralized fear responses to items that were previously neutral. It is not uncommon to see these responses lead to mutilation and abnormal repetitive behaviors such as eye-poking, leg chewing, feather plucking and over preening, and once they begin, they can be hard to redirect. This is why I often advise people to make sure their animals are used to change. A stagnant environment can punish curiosity and prevent the animal from engaging in valuable enrichment from which he can learn. If an animal that is not used to change comes to me for training, I start by being predictable and reinforcing calm behavior. I only change my predictability at his pace. Once I see him becoming calm with the predictability, I will then begin shaping change. These changes might incorporate a different time to feed, different food, or the introduction of a new object such as a broom,

or a new person. When I effectively shape and reinforce calm with the introduction of change, I start to see their curiosity build. Why would an animal not want to show curiosity in new items if the behavior is constantly paired with positive reinforcers? When I see curiosity, I get excited because I know the animal is on his way to being empowered in his environment. When I am working with a curious animal, I see him welcoming new objects into his environment instead of fearing them, and when I see this, the list of reinforcers begins building rapidly. I can also start experimenting with different objects and expand the list of reinforcers based on the animal’s response. At this point I also start to see the animal investigating his environment more, which means I am becoming a highly valued reinforcer too. I will see him wanting to be near me or engage with me more because the mutual line of respect through understanding body language now has a foundation. Play often results from reinforcing curiosity too. For example, I like to pick up new items and hand them to an animal who will often investigate and learn from them, including whether they can be of use or value. If he drops an item, I can pick it up and give it back. If he keeps dropping it, I can then put a “drop it� on cue. Once he begins to understand that the investigation of new items brings positive reinforcement, so much training can take place. This is where I see so many animals excitedly anticipating their training session as they are now enjoying learning new behaviors, and I can see their curiosity through their understanding of the training. How reinforcing is that to us as trainers? n


Kronos, the African-pied crow, investigates the inside of the crate before being trained to go inside

Lara Joseph is the owner of The Animal Behavior Center LLC,, in Ohio. She is also the Director of Avian Training for a wildlife rehabilitation center where she focuses on removing stress from animal environments. She is a professional member of The Animal Behavior Management Alliance, The International Association of Avian Trainers and Educators, and sits on the Advisory Board for All Species Consulting and The Indonesian Parrot Project.



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How Cats Play

Beth Adelman explains why playing games with your cat is important for his physical and mental health, and overall well-being


laying with your cat is not just fun and games. Play relieves boredom and stress, and can even help control behavior problems. In fact, a wide variety of feline behavior problems, from aggression to destructiveness to self-mutilation to inappropriate elimination to obsessive chewing, can be helped or managed by adding regular interactive play to a cat’s day.

All Play Is Hunting

The most important thing to remember is that for cats, play is always a form of hunting. Real prey is clever enough to make the hunt interesting. Mice, spiders, and other creatures are unpredictable. They run at different speeds. They change their direction. They scurry under the couch or behind the curtains. They play dead and then suddenly jump up and make a break for it. There is no substitute for interactive play, because only interactive play can simulate the hunt. All those wind-up, hang-on-thedoor, and automatic motion-detector toys don’t act like prey. Most follow a simple pattern when they move. But cats are extremely intelligent hunters and can quickly figure out these patterns, and then the toys are just no fun. Even the automatic toys that are a little bit unpredictable are not at all like prey, because they’re so big and hard (have you ever seen a lion pounce on a plastic garbage can?) and so loud (mice do not roar). Cats like things that are small and furry and make just the slightest rustle and squeak. That’s because cats locate their prey either by sound, visually, or both. Small movements and small sounds best simulate prey. Cats stalk their prey before pouncing. They don’t have the stamina to do a lot of chasing, so they have to make every pounce count. They stealthily move closer while they plan the at50

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© Can Stock Photo Inc./FotoFoto

Some cats may prefer prey that flies through the air and owners who are aware of this can select toys accordingly

© Can Stock Photo Inc./funix

Watching and planning are important aspects of hunting, and owners can incorporate these stages into play sessions for a more realistic, satisfying experience for their cat

tack. Eventually, there is a pounce, a catch and a kill bite. That means watching and planning are part of the hunt, so a cat who is not moving but is locked on visually to a toy is still engaged in the game. Watching and planning are aspects of play for a cat. The cat may even run away from the toy to stalk from across the room or crouch behind a piece of furniture for a better pounce. This also explains why cats love to hunt from a hiding place and burst out onto their prey. Throwing an old towel over a low coffee table or draping a coat on the back of a dining room chair will give your cat a perfect place from which to hunt. Often, making a “tent” is enough to get a reluctant hunter going. If the cat is sufficiently stealthy, the prey never notices the cat and simply goes about its business. When the prey does eventually become aware of the cat, it usually moves away rather than toward the cat. It may try to hide under or behind something, but will keep making small movements and small sounds. Understanding this gives you clues about how to make a toy enticing to your cat. Make the toy move away, cleverly changing direction, dashing for cover and popping out again. If the cat doesn’t show interest, you are not likely to get a response by touching the cat with the toy. That is not what prey would do.You will get a much better response by slowly moving the toy under a door and out of reach. Or you can move a toy around behind you and out of sight, and your cat will respond by following to see where it went. While some cats like to leap into the air, grabbing for a toy, many do not. From the cat’s point of view, leaping into the air is a last-ditch attempt at a catch. If your cat is jumping for the toy, she is not hunting it. See what your cats prefer but for many (especially older cats), prey should remain on the floor.

When caught, prey struggles a bit, then stops. If it escapes, the cat may chase it for a short while but will quickly give up. That is why you must make sure your cat catches the prey many times during a play session. In a 10-minute play session, the cat should catch the prey at least 10 times. A toy that can be caught and chewed or even torn limb from limb is the most satisfying. The toys your cat destroys are the best toys. Keep buying or making more of those. Let your cat catch the toy and then make it struggle a bit. That makes the cat feel like a very successful hunter.

Toy Preferences

Individual cats have individual prey preferences. For example, some cats hunt at night because their preferred prey is nocturnal. For these cats the sound of the prey is what causes them to switch from stalking mode to killing mode, and toys and games that make scratchy, rustling sounds are particularly exciting. Cats who hunt animals that are Cats will often demonstrate a active under conditions preference for a certain type of where there is more light toy depending on their style of play will be more stimulated by the prey’s movement. Cats may also prefer prey that flies through the air, that wiggles on the ground, that hides and disappears, or that moves in plain sight; prey that is light feathery, small and furry, long and snaky, easy to carry in their mouth, easy to bat with their paws, fun to chew, or sev© Can Stock Photo Inc./nataly0288 eral of the above. These prey preferences dictate their toy preferences. Some cats like big things and some like small things. Some like hard things they can bat with their paws. Some like soft things they can pick up and walk around with in their mouth. Often, knowing which toy is a favorite will tell you how the cat likes to play. Some cats will prefer one play style over another, just as some cats like fast-moving prey and others prefer it to move more slowly. To understand your cat’s play style, start by thinking about the four feline food groups: bugs, mice, snakes, and birds. Bugs fly in circles close to the ground, so a toy that goes in spirals and just touches the ground at each go-round is a bug. They fly in erratic patterns and land on things a little bit off the ground. Mice alternate walking and running, so the toy will move fast, then stop for a bit, then inch along, then run again. Mice also like to hide behind and under things. Going under a door or hiding behind a couch leg is what a mouse would do. Snakes crawl slowly under blankets and towels. They often stay still or move only slightly. Birds fly around and land on chairs and tables then stand still for long periods before taking flight to land somewhere else. This video African Wildcat - Healthy Predatory Hunting Behavior in the Wild will give you clues about how your cat may like to play. Note: the African Wildcat is the ancestor of our domestic cats.

FELINE You Are Not Prey

You want to encourage your cat to play wholeheartedly and to really think of the play session as a hunt. That means the cat has to be able to bite down—hard, so use toys that are away from your body. There are plenty of cat toys that come on a string, stick or wire, or try something small that you can toss. This discourages the cat from thinking of human body parts as toys. Cats who are in play/prey drive are totally in the moment and are completely unable to inhibit their bite, so keep your body parts to yourself. Also, you, the large person, are too big to be prey and can even be intimidating. Something remote and far from your body is more like what the cat would hunt. Two safety reminders: Always make sure the toys you choose have no easily removable parts that might be swallowed by your cat or otherwise cause harm. And anything with a string or wire should be put away when you are not playing with your cat because cats have been known to swallow string.

Winding It Down

Most cats can only play for 10 to 15 minutes at a time (although young, healthy cats can go for longer) so make the play sessions short and active. Don’t just walk away from a play session, leaving the cat wound up, however, as that will just lead to frustration. Remember, play is like hunting. Think about a wounded prey animal: It will start to move more slowly and erratically. It may be still for long periods of time and then move just a little. It will be easier and easier to catch. Let the cat catch the toy more and more often. Make sure the prey is thoroughly “killed.” Eventually, let the cat catch the prey and it will move no more. Drop the toy on the floor. The cat may bop it a few more times, along with a few more bites and shakes, to be sure it is really “dead.” Don’t put the toy away until the cat has walked away; if you pick it up while the cat is still interested, the “prey” has been resurrected. Finally, end every play/hunting session with a small treat. This cues the end of play, and also ends it in a very natural way: The cat has stalked the prey, pounced on it, bit it, killed it, and finally, will eat it.Very satisfying! n


Conscious Companion. (2016, October 7). African Wildcat Healthy Predatory Hunting Behavior in the Wild [Video File]. Retrieved July 5, 2017, from

Beth Adelman is a feline behavior consultant based in New York, New York, and is a member of PPG’s Cat Committee. She is a frequent speaker on feline behavior topics at industry conferences and public events.

BARKS from the Guild/September 2017



Maintaining Homeostasis

In Part One of this two-part article, Kathie Gregory looks at horses’ basic needs as

ll animals have a right to basic needs. A nutritious diet, shelter, fun, friends, freedom, comfort, and safety. Whilst basic needs are common to all species, the nature and provision of them is species specific, i.e. they are different for each species, and must meet the needs that have developed through the evolution of that particular species. We talk a lot about enrichment when it comes to our horses and other companion animals, but enrichment can only be called as such if the basic needs are met. In the absence of these, enrichment is simply an alternative to appropriate needs, and does not qualify as enrichment. Bearing all this in mind, let us take a look at the basic needs of the horse.

Horses are a social species that form complex relationships; solitary animals may not cope well with living alone

© Can Stock Photo/mwookie


a foundation for providing enrichment

Nutritious Diet

Horses are designed to graze and they do this for extended periods, up to 90 percent of their time. Anyone observing grazing horses will notice they do not stand still and eat all the grass in one area before moving to another. Rather, they roam as they graze. The large bowel of the equine has evolved to work best when there is an almost constant supply of food making its way through the digestive system. Forage should be high in fiber that needs extensive fermentation, with digestion taking on average around 48 hours. Horses evolved from being browsers (where food is eaten by browsing from trees and bushes) to grazers (where food is mostly eaten at ground level). Although horses do still eat from trees and hedgerows, most of their intake comes from ground level food. Foods that are more easily digestible, such as concentrates, may provide the necessary nutrients, but as they are more easily digestible, traverse the digestive system more quickly. The horse does not need to eat for the same length of time as when the main ingredient of the diet is forage. Horses who eat the majority of their food in stables do not have the ability to roam as they eat, while horses fed mainly from hay nets tied high up in order to slow down eating time need to maintain a posture that is not natural for any length of time. Problems result when nutrition is not provided in a form that is natural to the species. Several of the most common issues are: • Reduced chewing leads to a lack of adequate saliva production. Saliva helps counter stomach acid. • The lack of a continual trickle of food in the digestive system leads to chronic and acute digestive problems. • Horses that are fed a high proportion of their daily food intake from a height can develop significant physical, postural, and pain issues. • Horses have a biological need to graze, and when they do not have this option we may see a number of behavioral issues emerge. 52

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• Horses have an innate need to move as they eat. They are not stationary for much of the time, and lack of movement has an impact on homeostasis. Providing adequate nutritional needs in the wrong context does not address the basic needs of the horse or provide the ability to express natural behavior in his movements or the way he eats.


All horses need shelter from the elements, whether they are free roaming in substantial areas or are in a smaller managed area. Often free roaming horses will find natural shelter available at all times, but it may need to be provided depending on the landscape. The same can be said for horses in more domestic situations. If an area has trees and hedging it may provide adequate shelter but this can change during the time of the day and the seasons. Big leafy trees provide cover from the sun, but as it moves through the sky, the tree shadows different areas. There is also limited shelter from wind and rain in the winter when trees lose their leaves. Solutions can be field shelters or permanent shelters that are always accessible to the horse. In some environments it may be possible to plant different types of trees, or fast growing hedges in additional locations to provide shelter year round.


All horses need fun in their life. Play, learning, and investigating is a natural part of behavior for all species, prey and predator. Foals and young horses need to play with horses of similar age to develop a healthy mind, and all horses need the option to engage in

play. Play has a substantial impact on many aspects of emotional health, such as emotional resilience, satisfaction, contentment, achievement, and joy. Major psychological issues can result from a lack of play. Fun also comes in other forms, e.g. the enjoyment of doing something the horse likes, experiencing new things, engaging in activities with their person.


Horses are a social species, they live in groups. They form complex social relationships and like some friends more than others. For the most part, groups are long lasting and stable, with the same group members. Aggressive conflicts are rarely seen, disagreements are usually resolved without violence. Horses kept in isolation are denied the very basic needs of what a social species is. Horses are not solitary animals and do not cope well living alone. They also need to have stability within the group, so that they get to know each other and can form the complex relationships that are integral to what it is to be a horse. Regularly being moved between different groups of horses does not facilitate friendship development and progression. It is also important to note that for many horses, who they live with is not their decision. Rather, it is humans who choose which horses to keep together, which means it is not a natural group formation. Significant emotional distress can result when horses are denied the freedom to live as their species requires. Their minds may develop specific dysfunctions -- and consequently behavior -- associated with living in isolation, and they are particularly susceptible to this when they are in isolation as a foal or youngster. Think carefully about where the horse lives. Is he stabled? If so, for how long each day? Can he see the other horses from his stable? Is he turned out on his own or in a group? Is the group made up of the same horses? How are disagreements managed as unfamiliar horses get to know each other? Leaving them to fight it out, which often leads to ongoing bullying and a strict hierarchy, is not natural horse behavior. Horses do not live this way, they work together and the structure and dynamics of a group are fluid and complex. Essentially, the basic needs of the horse as a social animal necessitates the

An integral part of a horse’s needs are a quiet place to rest and a space to gallop and play in


ability to engage in and develop ongoing social relationships within a stable group.


Naturally, horses roam great distances and are able to move in all gaits whenever they wish. They have the freedom to choose how they live their life, who they live it with, when they move, rest, eat, and play. Giving domesticated horses this kind of freedom is not always possible, but setting up their environment to mirror their natural life as much as we can is. Stabling removes freedom, so look at how you can minimize this. Do your research when looking for companions for your horse. What personalities will complement him and what will not? He needs access to fields for grazing and spaces big enough to gallop and play in. Time activities for when he is most receptive to them. If he is busy in the morning and quiet in the afternoon, engage him in activities in the morning, let him rest, and make appointments for professionals to see him in the afternoon. Be mindful of hormones and how they change perceptions and motivations, and adjust what you do accordingly. What follows forms part of all the above, as it covers the horse as a whole rather than specific aspects. As such, horse guardians should assess all of a horse’s basic needs from the perspective of comfort and safety, which I will cover in the next two sections.


If we perceive comfort as a physical thing, it means to live in comfort. Horses should be able to eat in comfort, move in comfort, and rest in comfort. What the horse eats, when he eats, and how he has access to food should be in a way that is natural to him. Movement covers everything from ambling around his home to what he does away from home. Look at all the aspects of each activity and assess how each can be approached to most support what is natural to him. Rest is all the things a horse does when he is not active. He may be standing or laying down. Is the surface suitable and comfortable for this? Is there shelter available? Are there other horses with him? Is the environment relaxing, does it promote a restful state?

Friendship is important to horses, yet in many cases they do not get to choose who they live with

BARKS from the Guild/September 2017



Horses have an innate need to move as they eat; providing varied foraging opportunities is just one way of enabling them to engage in their natural behaviors

If we perceive comfort as psychological, it means to live with contentment. Horses should receive emotional support, affection, reassurance and care. Emotional support helps the horse progress and develop his understanding of the world. It helps him to overcome fears and anxieties and reinforces his sense of self and well-being. It encourages his mind to explore and know his preferences. Affection gives him happiness and friendship. Reassurance helps him be brave, to know his decisions are good and encourages him to reach his potential. Care is understanding his needs, personality, likes, dislikes, caring for his well-being, his life, and how he feels. There is stress in everyone’s life, including animals’, but overall comfort should significantly outweigh stress. As we are responsible for the welfare of the horses we own and work with, it is up to us to provide as comfortable a life as possible. Almost everything in a horse’s life exists because of our decisions and choices. We have the power to ensure that comfort is addressed with every horse we come into contact with.


Safety is both physical and emotional and should make the horse feel, well, safe. I know that sounds obvious but we often look at safety from our perspective as a human. However, a human’s perception of safety is not always the same as a horse’s. Horses are prey animals and have an inbuilt instinct to flee when they are scared or threatened. We perceive a horse is safe if he is securely tucked up in a stable but this denies him any expression of his natural instinct. Horses have not evolved to be confined, so the concept of being contained in a stable, particularly for lengthy periods of time, is not natural to the horse either. Horses have been domesticated, they do lead very different lives to their ancestors, and the majority have learned how to live part of their lives in confinement. However, it is incorrect to assume that what we see as safe will be viewed that way by the horse, or that he is happy to embrace the confines of his life. Looking at the safety measures, in terms of 54

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physical safety, we should ensure a horse’s outdoor area is free from objects that might injure him. This means the perimeter must be securely fenced, thus minimizing any chance of injury from the fencing itself, or possibility for the horse to escape to an area where he would not be safe. Any indoor space should be free from things that can cause injury. Any aids or equipment used in any context with the horse should not cause any physical injury or condition, chronic or acute. With regard to emotional safety, anything that causes a horse to feel unsafe or threatened denies the basic need of safety. Every horse is an individual, and his perception comes from his life, his experiences and his personality. There are some things that will cause all horses to feel unsafe, and some that cause this feeling in one horse but not in another. Any kind of abuse, punishment, or aversive, physical or psychological, will result in any horse feeling unsafe. Any aids or equipment used in any context with the horse should not cause emotional distress of any kind. Different horses feel unsafe in different situations, and their body language and actions make this easy to identify. If a horse is in avoidance, reluctant, or displays active defense, he feels unsafe. If he is interested, he may or may not engage straight away. Often he may need time to assess before committing to action, but unless he is forced to bypass the time needed, he is likely to only feel a transient lack of safety whilst his mind processes the situation. If he is fine, he will show willingness, if not he will show avoidance or disinterest. n The second part of this article will continue to highlight horses’ basic needs and look at ways to enrich their lives Kathie Gregory is a UK-based 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 Free Will TeachingTM, www, a concept that provides the framework for animals to enjoy life without compromising their own freewill.Her work is divided between working with clients, mentoring, and writing. She is now writing her second book, about bringing up a puppy using free will teaching.


Ask the Experts: But I Hate Marketing!

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

© Can Stock Photo/damedeeso

business and marketing

Q: I feel guilty saying this, but I hate marketing. I know I’m not the only dog business person out there who feels this way. And I know I need to do it. I promised myself I’d do one project this year, but I haven’t even managed to decide what to do. I figured writing in would be a good first step. So here’s my question: If you were only going to do one marketing project, what would it be? I need some direction. - Linda W. A: Congrats on taking a first step, Linda! You’re right—you’re not the only dog pro who would rather avoid marketing. But you’re also right that you have to do it. So let’s find a marketing project that gets the job done and feels good, too. My favorite project in most cases is a quarterly print newsletter. (Monthly e-mail newsletters are great, too, but they’re primarily for reA newsletter is the perfect way to market your business tention marketing to current and past clients. We recommend getting a print version up first and then using the content to fuel your email version.) I like print newsletters for a number of reasons: You get to help dogs while marketing. A good newsletter follows the 85/15 rule, which means most of the content (at least 85 percent) is helpful, educational, entertaining material about dogs and dog behavior. So while you’re promoting your business (the other 15 percent), you’re raising the canine IQ of your community—sharing some how-to’s, dispelling damaging myths, helping change how people see and interact with their animals. We encourage our dog*tec clients to view marketing differently, to see it as an opportunity to do good for dogs. You get to show off without having to show off. Part of the distaste around marketing for most positive reinforcement dog professionals is the seedy feeling of selling ourselves. But with strong content-based marketing like a newsletter, you don’t have to sing your own praises so much. Readers will be able to experience your professionalism and expertise just by enjoying the

advice and insights you share. You can use newsletters to market more widely. Because you’re offering good, solid reading material, you can leave newsletters outside normal marketing channels. Put yours in dentist offices and hair salons and cafes, just as a few examples— leave them anywhere someone might need something to help pass the time. And leave them in the normal spots, too—they’ll outshine the collection of dusty brochures and business cards at the local vet clinics and pet supply shops. Plus, because your newsletter will change each quarter, potential clients are more likely to pick it up again—something that rarely happens with a static brochure. You can use your newsletter to build referral sources. If you’re shy about asking the local vet or pet supply store owner for permission to leave your newsletters on their counters, don’t. Instead, ask for a quick interview for your newsletter—it’ll be easy to drop off copies for display when their business is featured on the front page. Do keep in mind that, as with any marketing project, it can easily take up to 12-18 months to see measurable results. So there’s no time like the present—I recommend starting today by taking five minutes to review your calendar and set time aside to tackle this project. And if you can begin to think differently about the project—to see your newsletter as community education rather than marketing—you’ll hopefully enjoy spending that time, too! All our best to you and your business, Linda! 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.


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/September 2017



Training What and When

In Part One of a two-part article, Niki Tudge discusses the process of learning, and points


out an important distinction between training and teaching

© Can Stock Photo Inc./grkistock

raining is not an 6. Do comevent, whereby an pany downsizing initiaemployee attends a tives require employees training session one day to be crosstrained as and their boss expects part of a workplace flexthe desired behavior (i.e. ibility or efficiency initiawhat has been trained tive? and, hopefully, learned) Each of these reathe next. Training is actusons requires that emally a process. It begins ployees learn new skills, before we even plan our acquire supplemental first class or workshop knowledge or make a and continues until the shift in behavior, and new knowledge, skills, and thus necessitates workattitudes are applied reguplace learning. larly and competently in As professionals, it is important we balance our roles between teaching and transferring knowledge, and training and getting the job done Learning Defined the workplace. All learning principles are predicated on a definition of learning, Many years ago, I was a corporate director of training for a so let us do just that. Learning is a process, a journey that leads large international company. I fulfilled this role across multiple to change that occurs as a result of new experiences. Through units on three different continents. Part of my role was helping these experiences comes an increased potential for improved develop future company leaders and putting into place a corpoperformance and future learning. rate structure and a culture of ongoing learning and developAmbrose et al. (2010) present that there are three critical ment. One of the first components of this was to analyze what components here: training and development was already taking place, and what 1. Learning is a process rather than a product. needed to change. 2. Learning must involve a change in knowledge, beliefs, beFrom my experience, I have identified numerous reasons why haviors or attitudes. management initiates employee training. The most common of 3. Learning is not something to be pushed onto students, these is poor work performance. In most cases, however, this is but is a direct result of how students interpret and respond to because a more structured and strategic approach to training is their experiences. lacking. If your organization has a culture of employee developLearning has also been defined as the process of increasing ment, service excellence and operational efficiency, then it probaone’s capacity to take action and the process by which a person bly has an ongoing approach to workplace training and acquires new knowledge, skills and capabilities. Honey (1998), as advancement, and thus a more proactive approach to performquoted by Armstrong, declared learning as complex and various, ance management. covering a range of components, such as knowledge, skills, inTraining is necessary in any of the scenarios detailed below sights, beliefs, values, attitudes and habits (Armstrong, 2003, p. but before you can plan any kind of program, you must first es538). In each of these definitions, keywords such as “process” and tablish why the training is to take place. Ask yourself: “acquires” are used. The definitions focus on the critical aspects 1. Is there a skill gap between low- and high-performing of the learning process in terms of Experiential Learning Theory, employees? making it more about adaptation than content. 2. Are there opportunities for service improvements as identified through client satisfaction reports? To Teach or To Train? 3. Are there new services or products being implemented Whether we train, teach, or both, what are we ultimately impactthat require supportive skill training or knowledge? ing? Buckingham and Coffman (1999) differentiate between skills, 4. Are there new standard operating procedures that emknowledge and talent and propose that, together, they form the ployees need to be aware of to ensure legal compliance? three elements of any one person’s performance. The dissimilar5. Have individual employees been earmarked for career ity between the three is that, while skills can be trained and progression and, if so, are future development needs being adknowledge taught, talent can be neither. Skills are the “how-to” dressed? 56

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and knowledge is what one is aware of, cognitively speaking. Talent is a different phenomenon altogether, however, and cannot be taught. Rather, it is a repetitive behavior or action intrinsic to an individual’s natural ability. In contrast to Coffman and Buckingham, Ulrich and Smallwood (2012) assert that talent is not a singular phenomenon, but relies instead on a formula of competence × commitment × contribution. As trainers, we need to be sufficiently self-aware to be able to place an emphasis on the areas where we can have the most impact. Ideally, our work should single out the development of skills through effective training and the transfer of knowledge through teaching activities. The assumption is that if we are effective trainers and skilled teachers, then our students will, in turn, be able to enhance their knowledge and improve their skills. As a result, they will experience the learning process. Let us now take a few minutes to look a little deeper at training versus teaching. Upon examination of the relevant literature, it becomes apparent that teaching is theoretically oriented, whereas training has more of a practical application. Teaching facilitates new knowledge, while training helps those who already have the knowledge to learn the tools and techniques required to apply it. Teaching penetrates minds, while training shapes habits and skills. Teachers provide information and knowledge, while trainers facilitate learning. Or, as Trumbull (1890) states: “It has been said that the essence of teaching is causing another to know.” It may similarly be said that “the essence of training is causing another to do.” (Rao, 2008). Training is an interactive activity that helps us to perform skills. It requires learning by doing and experiencing practical activities (Pollice, 2003). In my opinion, and stated across relevant literature, training focuses on skills and narrows the focus, possibly over a shorter period of time. Typically, we also associate training with repetitive learning until we achieve competency and the skill becomes second nature. A select review of the literature discussing teaching suggests that, in contrast to training, the search for, or transfer of, knowledge is deeper and broader, and takes place over a longer period of time. We often say learning is a lifelong occupation. Essentially, the goals associated with teaching and training are different, but I am not suggesting the two roles are mutually exclusive. On the contrary, it is important we balance our roles between teaching and transferring knowledge, and training and getting the job done. n

BUSINESS References

Armstrong, M. (2003). Human Resource Development. 9th edn. London, UK: Kogan Page Ambrose, S. A., Bridges, M.W., Lovett, M.C., DiPietro, M., & Norman, M.K. (2010). How Learning Works. San Francisco, CA: Jossey Bass, Inc. Buckingham M., & Coffman, C. (1999). First Break All the Rules. New York, NY: Simon & Schuster. Pollice, G. (2003). Teaching versus Training. The Rational Edge Publication. Retrieved July 18, 2017, from Rao, M.S. (2008). Teaching versus Training. Retrieved July 18, 2017, from Trumbull, C.H. (1890). Hints on Child Training. Eugene, OR: Great Expectations Book Co. Ulrich, D. & Smallwood, E. (2012). What is Talent? Leader to Leader. 63 (4) 55–61. Retrieved July 18, 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.

PPG World Service Radio Show

best of Bringing the stry to u d in the pet and share chat, chuckle

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

BARKS from the Guild/September 2017



An Important Conversation

Sheelah Gullion discusses how to keep emotions in check when talking aversives with

he situation is a familiar one to experienced dog trainers: It’s the first night of a group class, and people and their dogs are coming in and getting settled. The trainer is checking people in and getting a first look at the dogs when she notices a dog on a prong collar. This can still happen even when it has been made clear in advance that dogs should be on a harness or flat collar. The trainer feels a quick stab of dismay but takes a deep breath and heads over to the dog’s owner for what she hopes won’t be a difficult conversation. The more experienced among us may not experience any particular emotional reaction in such a situation, but others might find it something of a challenge—whether we admit it or not—to talk to clients about aversive equipment and/or techniques. After all, to be in any way affiliated with PPG, all members must adhere to a strict code of conduct that embraces sciencebased, humane, force-free training methods and equipment. Note: PPG members understand force-free to mean that shock, pain, choke, fear, physical force, and/or compulsion based methods are never employed to train or care for a pet. (Pet Professional Guild, 2012). As someone who wants not just to be comfortable having this conversation but actually welcomes the opportunity to have it, I wanted to find out more about how to do just that. I turned to people who not only have the professional credentials but also the street cred to advise on this topic, and discovered that the key is preparation. This can take two forms.

The Discussion

The first type of preparation usually stems from that “deepbreath” type situation referred to above. Pat Miller, owner of Peaceable Paws and author of Beware of the Dog: Positive Solutions for Aggressive Behavior in Dogs has had a long career that began with what Miller calls “old-fashioned methods.” She makes the following suggestions: 1. Think of it as a discussion rather than a debate. ‘Debate’ sounds too confrontational. 2. Stay calm.We lose the moral high ground when we get angry. 3. Remember that most trainers who use aversives are not evil; they are doing what they think is appropriate to successfully train dogs and create good dog-human relationships.They care about dogs, too. They obviously have success with it or they wouldn’t be in business. (I used to be good at it, too, and was very successful training dogs with those methods.) 4. Look for common ground. 5. Don’t say punishment doesn’t work. It does. Positive punishment is one of the four quadrants because it does, by definition, successfully decrease behavior.We lose credibility if we say it doesn’t work because there are plenty of people—trainers and regular dog own58

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Dog owners are not always aware that they have been causing their dog pain through the use of aversive equipment and pet professionals should be able to handle such situations without judgment

© Can Stock Photo Inc./auero


clients, and takes some advice from the experts

ers—who use it and have lovely, well-trained dogs. 6. Be willing to agree to disagree.You are better able to plant seeds for future change if you are gracious, not strident, in your discussions. The other form of preparation is role-playing.You can ask another colleague—or even a friend or spouse—to play the role of the client using aversive techniques or equipment, and practice what you want to say. This way you can try out different approaches to the conversation and get instant feedback about what works and what doesn’t.You can develop little mental scripts for which approach to use for different client concerns and learn how to go ‘off-script’ as well.

Practice Makes Perfect

Jean Donaldson, director of The Academy for Dog Trainers and author of The Culture Clash: A Revolutionary New Way to Understanding the Relationship Between Humans and Domestic Dogs, says this is something she already does at her facility. “At the academy, we rehearse the situations and drill [the students] with scripts,” Donaldson said, adding that, without this kind of practical exercise, trainers could fall into a trap that sets them up for failure. “In the last couple of decades, we [trainers] have changed our ways, or some of us have, but the clients haven’t necessarily carried along with us,” she said. “[Without rehearsing these tricky conversations], we see the dog as a victim and set the criteria too high for the client. When the client does-

n’t immediately get on board, we pronounce the client non-compliant. We never stop and say this client is the product of all those old messages.”

Cognitive Dissonance

The phrase that kept coming up during my research into this topic was cognitive dissonance, that mind bend that occurs when we are confronted by what we are and what we think we are and discover they are not one and the same. This is what Donaldson refers to when she says trainers are quick to blame the client for not accepting their word as gospel. There is also the client’s experience of cognitive dissonance that comes up when confronted—especially by a trainer—by the idea that they care for their dog but are possibly harming him through their use of aversive techniques and/or equipment. “Cognitive dissonance threatens our sense of self,” says Carol Tavris, social psychologist and author of Mistakes Were Made (But Not By Me) (cited in Wong, 2017). “Dissonance is uncomfortable and we are motivated to reduce it.” Ariana Rodriguez, owner and certified dog trainer at Stellar Canines in Texas agrees. “Try your best to understand where these clients are coming from,” she says. “It can be quite difficult accepting the fact that you’ve been hurting your dog when all you were trying to do was help them. Some clients will never change but most just need time.”

Avoiding Judgment

I feel that judgment is perhaps one area where crossover trainers have something of an edge over trainers who are purely positive. Indeed, everyone I interviewed for this article agreed: “The fact that I am a crossover trainer gives me some additional degree of credibility because I can speak from personal experience about those old-fashioned methods,” Miller says. Michelle Borchardt is another crossover trainer who has moved beyond judgment: “I remember I was in that same place once,” she says. Today, Borchardt is service coordinator and trainer at the University of California Davis Veterinary Behavior Services and works with clients and also veterinary students who are in rotation during their senior year. Borchardt is now a purely force-free trainer, but started dog training back when force was widely used. “I was introduced to methods using choke chains and commands and basically dominance theory,” Borchardt says, adding that the trainer was widely experienced and recommended to her by her vet. Borchardt apprenticed under this trainer and went on to use the same methods on wild animals in commercial work, but the scientist in her questioned the studies that backed up the claims made by trainers using such methods. Now, when Borchardt sees clients at her training facility who come in with their dogs on aversive collars, she approaches the topic from a different angle. “I just say, ‘Why don’t we put on the flat collar for now. If the dog does something we don’t like, we can handle it,’ ” she says. “Then, when he does something the client likes, we show the client what we did and why it works. You don’t even have to say anything [about the aversive equipment].”

CONSULTING Client-Focused Skills

Remember, too, that the client has already taken the first step by attending your training class. Donaldson’s advice is thus to “recognize the client for coming to you.” She also advises trainers to develop skills in counseling. “Get good at dealing with clients in an authentic, compassionate manner. Get them to come to the conclusion on their own,” she says, adding that: “Trainers are people, too. If there’s a case where you feel you’re not up to it (technically, or counseling-wise, or emotionally), go ahead and refer out.” “I’ve yet to have a client be completely satisfied with their aversive equipment or techniques,” says Rodriguez. “They may appear to be okay with the results, but the issues always resurface later in the sessions. I practice patience and don’t believe in pressuring my clients.” Borchardt shared with me the story of one client who, when she met her, was standing in a corner yelling at her German shepherd dog and correcting him by his prong collar. The case was instructive for Borchardt because it took time to get through to this client. “She hadn’t absorbed the whole idea because she tried for five minutes and didn’t see a change and then gave up,” Borchardt says. “When she came for her re-check, she had just picked up her dog from a two week board-and-train [at another facility] and said she only came back because she had already paid for the visit.” Borchardt realized the client needed more from her. “By the end she was crying saying ‘I’ve been doing this all wrong!’ but I told her, ‘It’s not your fault, you’re learning. It’s confusing. Let’s start over!’ We took a client who was angry and frustrated and, although not right away, she turned the corner.” Donaldson points out that sometimes a trainer may inadvertently set the criteria too high for a client, making it much harder for them to accept the new methods. “I’ve spent many years pounding the drum of how these people are evil, but I was wrong.” One of the biggest advantages of being a PPG member is the opportunity to network and share information with so many other pet professionals, and I, for one, will certainly take Donaldson’s advice, if and when that situation arises, to refer out. If it does, you can be sure I will be inviting that trainer out for a coffee to pick his or her brain to help me develop better counseling skills. n


Tavris, C. (2017, May 22). Why It’s So Hard to Admit You’re Wrong [by K. Wong]. New York Times. Retrieved July 10, 2017, from


Pet Professional Guild. (2012). Guiding Principles. Retrieved July 10, 2017 from /PPGs-Guiding-Principles

Sheelah Gullion CPDT-KA lives in St Petersburg, Florida with a 3-year-old rescued Rhodesian ridgeback who has canine separation anxiety. She is owner of Sunshine City Dogs & Blogs, an umbrella company with twin offerings of corporate communications/editorial services, and dog training services to the public. BARKS from the Guild/September 2017



The Key Is Education

In our ongoing series of PPG member profiles, this month BARKS features Rachel Lane


of Leash and Learn in New York, New York

achel Lane was in seventh grade when her family took their new dog, Trixie, to puppy class and the young owner immediately “fell in love with dog training.” In high school, whenever the topic of “which career” came up, the only answer she could give was to become a dog trainer, a response that was usually brushed off while she was told to think of something she could do in a four-year university setting. She ended up moving to New York City to pursue her bachelor of arts at The City College of New York and, in 2015, finished school with a double major in digital design and advertising/public relations.

Rachel Lane with her rescue dog Dustin, who was deemed “difficult” and in his last days at the shelter

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

A: While in college I began working at a day care. Unfortunately, the day care was not very well run and was filled with dogs that were not appropriate in that particular setting. Even though this was not ideal I really learned a lot about dog behavior. This solidified that I wanted and was going to become a dog trainer. I then began a two-year apprenticeship with an experienced trainer. From there I took what I learned and ran with it, learning as much as I could, whenever I could, in any form. I also began my dog training company, Leash and Learn. I regularly attend seminars, classes and read as many books as I can. I felt that my next step was taking a more in-depth look at animal behavior, in an academic setting, to better improve the quality of life of the dogs that I work with, which is why I am completing a certificate in applied animal behavior through the University of Washington. In the future, I hope to pursue my master’s in animal behavior and conservation at Hunter College of the City University of New York. I currently own my own business, Leash and Learn, located in Manhattan. I see private clients in their homes and deal with a variety of problems. I see puppies who need a good start, dogs who are barking and lunging on walks, dogs who need some manners inside the house (buzzer barking, door dashing, food stealing), dogs who are scared of the sights and sounds of such a busy city and do not want to be outside, and many other issues. Q:Tell us a little bit about your own pets.

A: I have one dog named Dustin. I adopted him from Manhattan Animal Control on June 19, 2012. He had not done well on his temperament test in the shelter and he was one of the next little dogs who would have been put down. It was very difficult to persuade the shelter to allow me to take him home. I was only 20 at the time and they did not want to give me a “difficult” dog. He was supposedly not good with people, dogs or kids. Admittedly, I 60

BARKS from the Guild/September 2017

did not really realize exactly how much work he was going to be, but I would not trade it in for anything in the world. I love the relationship that I have with Dustin and he is the light of my life. With lots of hard work, Dustin has turned into an amazing dog. He is very charming and has a very happy-go-lucky attitude. He became a Trick Dog Champion in July 2013, starred in a short film, Introducing Parker Dowd, and most recently played Sandy in Riverdale Professional Childrens Theatre's production of Annie. His amazing transformation was also featured in the local Manhattan newspapers Our Town and West Side Spirit (see Student Helps Star Pup Regain Sight,, when we found out that, at four years of age, he had developed cataracts and was blind in one eye, which required an expensive surgery to repair. We also recently began competing in Rally. Every time we step foot in the ring he performs his little heart out, and every time we leave I am so proud of him for how far he has come. Dustin has made me the trainer I am today. He gave me lots (and lots) of experience dealing with many different dog issues; people-reactivity, dog-reactivity, sound sensitivity, mild separation anxiety, basic obedience training, advanced obedience training, my first time competing in dog sports, force-free off-leash recall (the list could go on and on). Of course, he is still not perfect, no dog is. But I love who he is issues and all and I could not have asked for a better partner in this journey. Q: Who has most influenced your career and how?

A: I feel very lucky to have had an apprenticeship with a trainer

who is positive reinforcement/force-free. I have never been comfortable with forceful training methods but, if my first experience in the dog world had been with aversives, I could be using prong and shock collars now. It is not something I would ever have wanted to do but if I had been told that it was the only way, and for the dog’s good, and better than being euthanized etc., I might have reluctantly tried it and thought that it worked. I appreciate that I had a foundation that allowed me to look at all methods and think about, not only, the benefits and drawbacks but also the welfare of the dog. The relationship that I have with my dog is full of communication and trust. I cherish the fluidity and ease that I feel when we are working together. I strive for every client of mine to have a similar relationship with their dog, and I owe this directly to the apprenticeship that I did. With a different education I could have ended up as a completely different trainer. I think this is super important for people to realize because so many dog owners do their best but just have not received an education about force-free training. They cannot know about something they have never been exposed to. Education is key and I appreciate the education that I have, and I try to pass it on to clients to help as many dogs as possible.

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

A: I literally just always wanted to be a dog trainer. I loved the puppy classes I took with Trixie when I was in seventh grade and nothing could persuade me to do anything else (even my two degrees!) I think what I loved was the fun that I had with her in those classes and I wanted to bring that fun into my life as well as clients’ lives. Q: Are you a crossover trainer or have you always been a force-free trainer?

A: I feel very lucky to have come up as a dog trainer in a time that force-free training is very "in." It has allowed me the opportunity to have such a great educational experience.

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

A: It saddens me to see dogs who have been trained with forceful methods and are prime examples of learned helplessness. The more clients I can educate and help understand their dogs, hopefully there will be fewer dogs subjected to forceful training. Every time I leave a client and have provided them with information that will help them have a happy, healthy, productive life with their dog, I feel like it has been a success because it is one more dog who will have a happier life.

Q: What do you consider to be your area of expertise? A: Dog-reactive dogs, but tricks are my favorite.

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


A: I love Susan Garret's "It's Your Choice" for impulse control. I also utilize LAT quite often. Being in a city with lots of dogs crammed on busy sidewalks, it makes a big difference quickly for many dogs who are reactive on leash. Q:What is the favorite part of your job?

A: I love hearing from clients several weeks or months after working with them and hearing how well everything is going. I know it might be a little weird to get such joy from such a latent response, but when I hear from people long after we stopped working together I know that I have really done my job. They learned what I tried to teach them and it helped them lead a better life with their pet.

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

A: Canine Good Citizen (it was a huge deal for us to have passed); Champion Trick Dog (DMWYD); Rally Level 1, with award of excellence (WCRL); Rally level 2, with award of excellence (WCRL); Novice Rally (AKC).

Q: What is the funniest or craziest situation you have been in with a pet and their owner?

A: I have accidentally walked in on people with very little clothing on!

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

A: My reward is coming home to Dustin. But from a more practical aspect, I feel that by helping people live happier lives with their dogs, fewer animals will end up in shelters. Each dog I help is one less animal who risks needing to be re-homed at a later date because of behavior that the owner does not like and does not know how to handle.

Q: What advice would you give to a new trainer starting out? A: Read as many books and go to as many seminars and classes as you possibly can. There is an infinite amount of information out there.You can always learn a new skill or adopt a new technique.You must not become stagnant.You will have a greater impact, and be more humble and happier in your work if you continue to immerse yourself whenever and wherever possible. Q: How has PPG helped you to become a more complete trainer?

A: I love the education benefits of being a PPG member. There is information readily available for professionals and dog owners. I really like the [aversive gear] trade-in program, Project Trade, I feel that many people use shock and prong collars because they have not been educated on the use of other tools. n Leash and Learn,, is located in New York, New York To be featured in the BARKS Profile section, complete this form: BARKS from the Guild/September 2017




Completing the Puzzle

Breanna Norris reviews Get Coaching Now! The How, What and Why of Effective Pet Industry Client Consultations and Skill Training Sessions by Niki Tudge

rom contracts and interviews to teaching and counseling, as pet professionals, more often than not, we are dealing with humans even though, for many of us, the human element has not been the focus of our work or education. Luckily, there are folks like Niki Tudge who hone in on this often neglected but essential piece of the training puzzle. States Tudge: “One of the reasons many training programs do not yield the expected results is because they are launched without the relevant knowledge regarding gaps in the client’s skills and knowledge. If there are philosophical differences, then these need to be addressed at the onset and not three lessons into the program.” Get Coaching Now! tackles the common issues that any professional faces when interacting with clients, and specifically addresses the professional/client/dog component, including how to teach and train effectively, how to listen, manage time, reinforce, motivate, encourage and engage with clients in a meaningful way. Tudge also discusses many of the common issues pet professionals often face when doing their first consultation with a new client, instructing group classes, or working with a longterm client. At the end of the day, a trainer’s talents and skills risk being lost if they cannot effectively communicate with the client that lives with the animal. The client, as we all know, is the one that will need to put in the time and energy. But how can we effectively coach our clients through this process? In a nutshell, this is what Tudge covers in this work. The book is broken down into six parts: Approach, Planning, Environment, System, On Task Skill Coaching Method and Implementation. The format is easy to read and accessible, sometimes covering broad topics and other times covering very specific situations a pet professional may face with clients. I found many of the graphs and figures useful, highlighting most of them as I read through the book. My favorite is a simple chart for a six-week training plan that breaks down what “Knowledge” (teaching theory) is covered and what “Skill” (training mechanics) needs to be covered in each session with a client. In session one, the purpose


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

BARKS from the Guild/September 2017

and use of Kongs and other food toys may be covered but, as this will need some hands-on learning, the practical application or training mechanics is also covered. Simply talking about Kongs may not be very useful to a client without actually seeing the Kong, how to fill it, what to fill it with and how to tie it into their daily routine. In this way, Tudge does an excellent job explaining how to link theory and skill so clients can easily understand what is required. Tudge also discusses the importance of the role of the professional, the difference between their role and the owner’s role and, within those roles, who will be responsible for what, and how to make this clear to the client. She offers simple steps to make sure every training session is valuable for both the professional and the client to ensure there is clarity for both parties. If you find that you may sometimes lecture clients rather than coach (thereby giving them more information than they can manage), have doubts that you are giving them helpful, easily digestible material, or maybe even feel frustrated that they are not following your plan, this book will be the perfect resource for you. “To become effective and efficient people trainers, we need to recognize the importance of using appropriate reinforcement during the learning stage of each behavior,” states Tudge. “As such, we need to give clear direction and use effective, fair, motivating training procedures, and create training environments that facilitate a constructive approach over a frustrated approach.” And this is the process she has set out in this, her second book. Get Coaching Now! can be used as a companion to the first, People Training Skills for Pet Professionals, or can just as easily be read and appreciated alone. n Get Coaching Now! The How,What and Why of Effective Pet Industry Client Consultations and Skill Training Sessions Niki Tudge (2017) 131 pages Amazon Digital Services LLC ASIN: B06XWM7CB5


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