BARKS from the Guild September 2015

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BARKS from the Guild

Issue No. 14 / September 2015

AVIAN Building Lasting Relationships

FELINE Introductions for Long-Term Success CANINE The Ethics of Using Decoy Dogs

BEHAVIOR The Whys and Hows of Resource Guarding TRAINING Enrichment in a Shelter Environment

Š Can Stock Photo Inc./RaFaLe

CONSULTING The Common Art of Self-Deception

BUSINESS Channeling Sales Related Anxiety

Fight or Flight? The Emotional States behind Leash Reactivity

A Force-Free Publication from the Pet Professional Guild: By the Members for the Members


from the Guild Published by the Pet Professional Guild 9122 Kenton Road, Wesley Chapel, FL 33545 Tel: 41 Dog-Train (413-648-7246) Editor-in-Chief Susan Nilson

Contributing Editors Jan Casey, Patience Fisher, Elizabeth Traxler

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

The Guild Steering Committee Fiona De Rosa, Diane Garrod, Debra Millikan, Susan Nilson, Anne Springer, Angelica Steinker, Niki Tudge, Catherine Zehner

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: Membership Manager Rebekah King

Letters to the Editor To comment on an author’s work, or to let us 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.

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


From the Editor

s many dog trainers and behavior consultants will no doubt attest, leash reactivity is one of the most commonly reported problems amongst clients. Dog owners often find the behavior embarrassing and feel judged by others that they are not “in control” of their dog. They may be tempted to shout at the dog or jerk him around, or put him on whatever aversive equipment they think will “fix” the problem. Our cover story this issue investigates this prevalent issue and examines the many emotional states that may be driving the behavior, which are, of course, key to being able to modify it. Elsewhere, we come back to the important topic of enrichment and feature a novel approach that one PPG member has come up with to help the shelter dogs she works with. We also have a host of articles covering all things canine, including the use of decoy dogs, resource guarding, pica and training a therapy dog, as well as a thought-provoking case study featuring a Boston terrier whose late onset deafness was blamed – largely inaccurately - for a host of behavior problems. In addition, we delve into the issue of working with blind dogs and how improving their emotional state can empower trainers to give the dog a more positive experience, just as we would with any other dog in fact, visually-impaired or otherwise. Another case study features terrier cross Kobe who was inadvertently sent to an aversive training “boot camp” and came back a different dog, and not for the better. Our article details his journey back to “normality” which involved, amongst other things, coming up with an entirely new list of training cues as the original ones caused him so much anxiety. Dog bite prevention is always a pertinent topic and we have a round-up of some of the insights provided at the 2015 National Dog Bite Prevention and Behaviour Conference in the UK. We also explore the world of rescue which is, sadly, seeing increasing numbers of pigs, birds and other exotics being abandoned as people struggle to cope with the specific needs of such animals in a domestic environment. We have increased our feline coverage in this issue and have two intriguing features, one on the pros and cons of indoors versus outdoors for domestic cats, and one examining what can be done to keep more adopted cats in their new homes, rather than being returned to the shelter. Our avian section has also expanded and features another installment in our series on parrot enrichment, as well as a guide to preventing behavior problems in newly-adopted birds to help ensure a successful, lasting relationship. Finally, our consulting and business section offers a compelling mix of articles, including an insight into the lives of military families and how we can best serve them as our clients, the art of self-deception and its role in training - both for consultants and pet owners, and a look at why many pet professionals are such reluctant salespersons – and what they can do to change their approach. As always, a big thank you to all our contributors and readers. Constructive feedback is always welcome.

n Susan Nilso

BARKS from the Guild/September 2015


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MESSAGE FROM THE PPG AND PPGA PRESIDENTS 14 Progress reports from Niki Tudge and Stephanie McColl NEWS, EDUCATION & EVENTS PPGBI, the Summit, the Cat Committee, perks, webinars and workshops THE ROLLERCOASTER OF REACTIVITY Mary Jean Alsina explains how to raise a dog that walks happily on a leash, and how to deal with leash reactivity RUNNING IN CIRCLES Jane Gerard discusses enrichment for dogs in shelter environments THE ART, SCIENCE AND ETHICS OF USING DECOY DOGS Yvette Van Veen on using decoy dogs in behavior change programs A POSITIVE EXCHANGE Cecelia Sumner examines canine resource guarding AGGRESSION FROM HEARING IMPAIRMENT? Morag Heirs presents a case where late onset deafness was deemed responsible for a host of behavior issues TRAINING A BLIND DOG Miki Saito shows how improving a blind dog’s emotional state can empower trainers COMPULSIVE EATING Maureen Tay looks into the motivations for unusual eating patterns in dogs and highlights possible solutions THE AFTERMATH OF „BOOT CAMP‰ Amanda Ballard relates the tale of Kobe, who displayed intense anxiety following an aversive training “boot camp” GREAT EXPECTATIONS Gail Radtke details how to go about training a therapy dog THE IMPORTANCE OF LEARNING TO READ DOG Louise Stapleton-Frappell reports from the 2015 National Dog Bite Prevention and Behaviour Conference in the UK EXOTIC ANIMALS AND SHELTER AWARENESS Lara Joseph examines the rapid increase in pet birds, pigs and other exotics being abandoned at animal shelters INDEPENDENCE WITH BENEFITS Jane Ehrlich explains why cats are better off staying indoors FELINE BEHAVIOR UNMASKED Jane Ehrlich responds to commonly asked questions about cats SLOWLY DOES IT © Can Stock Photo Patience Fisher explains the importance of slow introductions /bazilfoto for new cat owners 44 GUIDING PRINCIPLES FOR PARROT ENRICHMENT Amy Martin outlines the steps for creating an effective species-appropriate enrichment program for captive parrots NEW BIRD ON THE BLOCK Vicki Ronchette explains how to introduce a new bird to the flock to ensure a successful future THE PERFECT STORM Amy Martin outlines how pet professionals can gain a better understanding of military families as clients LIE TO ME: SELF-DECEPTION AND DOG BEHAVIOR Angelica Steinker explains how self-deception can impede training HOW TO CHANNEL SALES-RELATED ANXIETY John Visconti investigates the various fears and phobias inherently present in the typical sales process MEMBER PROFILE: NO TIME LIKE THE PRESENT Featuring Elsie English, giving “difficult” dogs a second chance





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© Can Stock Photo/RUZANNA


© Can Stock Photo/RaFaLe


BARKS from the Guild/September 2015



© Can Stock Photo /vitalytitov



Results Guaranteed


While gearing up for PPG’s first ever educational summit in Tampa, Florida in November, Niki Tudge outlines some of the latest and upcoming developments at the Guild

Dear Fellow Force-Free Advocates, This will be my last president’s message prior to PPG’s inaugural educational Summit, which is being held on November 11-13 in Tampa, Florida. It is more than a year ago now that we put together the first group of volunteers to begin work on this exciting project. While you are all either booking flights or still deciding whether you will be able make it to this fabulous event, we are now busy working on all the event location logistics, which includes planning the activities for the welcome reception, the formal “Splash” dinner and all the other fun games and evening entertainment. There is still much to do, such as finalizing the t-shirts, the event “swag bags,” the lanyards and the Summit program guide. There is also a growing excitement within our organizing team as we are now only about nine weeks away from the launch. I cannot tell you how excited I am to finally get to meet this great team I have worked alongside for the last 12 months, as well as all of you who are busy preparing to speak at the event, attend in person or support from a distance in anticipation of being able to purchase our Summit DVD. At PPG, we are not usually in the business of guaranteeing results. I will, however, stick my neck out and personally guarantee to each and every one of you planning to attend, that this will be a fun and highly educational three days. I am making it my personal responsibility to ensure that you all enjoy it and find it to be of the highest quality and value. We look forward to seeing many of you there. We have an incredible educational line up (see the schedule here: -Schedule), but if that alone does not inspire you, then maybe our activity guide will. Personally, I am looking forward to challenging some of you to “Panty Hose Bowling.” For any of you competitive types who would like to get in some training you can review the game at For those of you not quite so active you can participate in our “Treat Hurling” competition. I will be warming up for both these events by leading off our Early Risers riverside 3 mile run each morning at 6 a.m., so feel free to join me. In other news, the PPG Advocacy Committee has emailed out the first of its new monthly newsletters. It is the goal of the committee © Can Stock Photo/ ivelinradkov

to release one educational video and one new advocacy educational handout every month that you can all use in your businesses. If you missed the email, you can catch up on all the news at We are always looking at news ways in which we can help you, our members, to grow your businesses and help us to advocate and educate on force-free training methods and philosophies. It is too early to do any big reveals but I can inform you that we are working on a few exciting projects. These include: 1. Become a PPG Media Ambassador. 2. A fabulous compilation of all PPG’s educational resources, articles and blogs (see page 12 for more details). 3. An invigorated International Day of Celebration for Force-Free Training and Pet Care competition that will have you running, not walking, to sign up. 4. A PPG advocacy program to help pet owners relinquish their shock, choke and prong collars. Stay tuned for news on all this and even more exciting projects the various PPG committees are working on at this very moment.

Niki Tudge

President - Pet Professional Guild

Niki Tudge is the founder of the PPG, www, The DogSmith,, a national dog training and pet-care license, and DogNostics Career College, Her professional credentials include: NADOI – Certified, AABPProfessional Dog Trainer, AABP- Professional Dog Behavior Consultant, Diploma Animal Behavior Technology, and Diploma Canine Behavior Science & Technology. BARKS from the Guild/September 2015





Message from the President, PPG Australia


PGA’s recent focus has been on the Sydney Dog Lovers Show, which took place on August 15-16, 2015. Our main goal was to market our training methodology and get our name out in public. As such, a small team that included organizer Louise Newman, assistants Jason Lau and Shelley Aukett and Peta Clarke (dropping by with a friend to lend a hand when things got a bit frantic) spent a busy weekend handing out PPGA flyers and training treats, donated by our sponsor Love ‘Em, and talking, talking, talking. Around 22,000 adults and several thousand children attended the show and almost 500 people were interested enough to take a card with details of our website on it so they could search for a force-free trainer in their area. We also had a “Trainers’ Wall” on the stand which featured logos of PPGA members’ businesses and generated a lot of interest. Organizer Lou Newman commented that the word “Guild” was “well received” and that pet owners felt the perks were great, especially PPG’s trade publication, BARKS. People were very interested in the force-free message and wanted to be part of what we stand for. According to Newman, PPGA represented the

Louise Newman (left) and Jason Lau on the PPGA stand at the Sydney Dog Lovers Show

Advocacy Down Under

The Australian RSPCA has launched the Illogical Races campaign nationwide to coincide with the start of the jumps season. A dedicated website,, has been developed as an online resource, which is aiding the traditional and social media strategy in conjunction with the dialogue the RSPCA has entered into with key industry stakeholders. The RSPCA led the conversation in the media following the death of race horse, Black Moon just prior to the Oakbank Easter Carnival, held in the Adelaide Hills, South Australia. This coverage culminated in an ABC 7:30 Report appearing on national television about the Australian jumps racing industry. Over a two month period, a petition which urged the Oakbank Racing Club to drop jumps events attracted more than 9,200 signatures and hundreds of comments. Copies of the signatories and a selection of comments have been forwarded to 6

BARKS from the Guild/September 2015

only fully force-free, positive trainers at the show, with everyone else in attendance being ‘balanced.’ “Every time our members do not reply or volunteer then the ‘balanced’ trainers get a foothold,” said Newman. “They use positive reinforcement too, but only about 60 percent of the time, so it can be difficult for the public to discriminate. We need foot soldiers to help get the word out about real humane and force-free training and pet care.” Elsewhere, we are delighted to report that one of our members, Jacqui Tourle, has stepped up to head our marketing and publicity committee. Tourle has a formal background in marketing, and brings great skills and professionalism to the role. We need to get the word out onto the streets that we are here and this committee will play a crucial role in that. Meanwhile, the steering committee has been busy contacting various suppliers of dog-related products that are a good fit with our Guiding Principles,, and will be reporting several new partners in the next couple of weeks. Steph McColl President - PPG Australia Steph McColl PCT-A is originally from New Zealand and started her dog training career in 1972 when, sadly, the only methods available were aversive. Following her migration to Australia in 1981, she concentrated on horses until 1996, when she got her first border collie and moved into positive reinforcement training. She then completed Certificate IV in Behavioral Dog Training with the Delta Society Australia, and began competing in obedience, NoseWork and RallyO with her two current border collies. She combines private one-toone dog-training and behavior consults with her role as chief instructor at Telarah Dog Training, www.telarahdogtraininginc .com, as well as owning and running a bookkeeping business.

THE ILLOGICAL RACES Stop Jumps in South Australia


government ministers, Thoroughbred Racing SA, South Australian Jockey Club and Oakbank Racing Club committee members. The RSPCA is committed to being a leading voice advocating for the end of jumps racing in South Australia and will continue to represent the views of members of the public who believe that continuing to hold jumps races is not justified on animal welfare grounds. - Di Evans BSc BVMS MPhil MANZCVS Animal Welfare Advocate, RSPCA (SA) Inc.


t the beginning of August, PPG’s Advocacy Committee released its first-ever educational handout, focusing on dog bite safety. Titled Be Safe. Dog Bite Safety and Education, the goal is to promote awareness amongst the dog-owning public that, by learning to read a dog’s body language and facial expression, many dog bites could be prevented. Here’s a sneak preview: Did You Know? · Half of all children bitten by dogs are under the age of 12. · Most dog bites are by the family dog or dogs known to the person. · Most dog bites are preventable. A dog bite can happen very quickly. There are numerous reasons why dogs bite. For example, the dog may be unsure of the situation, want space, feel scared or threatened, be protecting his food or toys, be feeling ill or be in pain. Safety is paramount for both children and dogs and by following a few tips you can reduce the likelihood of these unfortunate incidents. Most importantly, never put children and dogs in a situation where their safety is in question. · Be aware of the potential dangers – even if it is the family dog. · Be responsible – provide active supervision at all times. · Be aware that even supervision does not guarantee a child will not get bitten. Dogs move very quickly and there may not always be time to intervene, even if you are watching closely for signals. · Educate yourself and others in reading canine body language so you know when to give the dog space. Download the full PDF at: /resources/Documents/Advocacy%20Handouts/Handout%201 %20-20Dog%20Bite%20Safety.pdf

Did You Know? Useful Facts for Members


ere is a brief update on some of the perks of being a PPG member: * If you are accruing CEUs for the Pet Professional Accreditation Board you can apply for past and future events by completing this form as the attendee: * If you refer a new member and they mention your name in the application form, then you will have $10 credited to your PPG membership account. Their membership must be approved and fully processed. * PPG’s trade publication, BARKS from the Guild, will soon be going into full print production, which will make it affordable for all. * All PPG webinars are recorded and may be accessed at any time. If you sign up for an event then you automatically receive a copy of the recording. * If you refer anyone to sign up for PPG’s Summit,, in November 2015 and they document your name in their sign-up form, then you get $35 credited to your PPG account.

PPG Extends Reach in Singapore


PG has extended its reach in the Far East with the launch of PPG Singapore. The new chapter will move forward quickly with the establishment of its own website, local branding and all other PPG benefits pertinent to its membership base in the region. "Setting up PPG Singapore is a huge step for a small nation like ours,” said Maureen Tay, chief trainer at KasPup UniFURsity,, BARKS writer and one of six PPG Singapore steering committee members. “We have observed an increasing number of pet owners who are looking for a more humane approach to pet care. Now, we will be able to reach out to them and educate further afield, as well as support the growing number of force-free pet professionals in Singapore. Dog training for the past 40 years has largely been controlled by “traditional” trainers. Unfortunately, they are quite prevalent and many owners still buy into the idea that dogs need to be trained using force and coercion. Although we may be unable to convince these trainers that force-free training is the way forward, what we can do is educate the public and help them make a humane, educated decision.” Tay is joined on the steering committee by Michelle Chan, Kristina Dieta, Poh Wee Boon, Jun Yeo and Michelle Chua. “Scientifically proven, force-free, humane training methods for all animals are the future of our industry,” said PPG president, Niki Tudge. “Further international chapters are in the works with rollouts expected in the coming months.” Maureen Tay (center): Spreading the force-free message via PPG Singapore

PPG Releases New Educational Videos


PG has released three new advocacy and educational videos and one quick educational EDUCATION tip. They are all available on PPG’s YouTube chan+ nel, ADVOCACY /user/PetProfessionalGuild. The topics are: - A Call For Change – An Educational Video on Why We Should Not Be Using Choke and Prong Collars. See ?v=2VwCgthmX4M& - Let’s Work Together – A Promotional Video Calling for Veterinarians, Professional Trainers and Pet Owners to Work Collaboratively Together. See & - A Public Announcement – Education about Service Dogs. See - Quick Tip # 1 – Dr. Karen Overall on the Use of Shock Collars. See

BARKS from the Guild/September 2015

© Can Stock Photo/fotostok_pdv

PPG Launches First Educational Handout




Update from PPG British Isles


he Pet Professional Guild British Isles (PPGBI) has gone from strength to strength since its launch in April. The Steering Committee is very pleased with the progress that has been made and the positive feedback that has been received regarding the establishment of this international chapter of PPG. To date, Prof. Paul McGreevy BVSc PhD, veterinarian and ethologist; Debbie Matthews of Vets Get Scanning, the Microchip Alliance and the Stolen and Missing Pets Alliance; and Craig MacLellan, CEO and founder of Veterans With Dogs, have all been appointed as Special Council members. PPGBI now offers several new vendor discount partners, including Mighty Dog Graphics and Strongdogz, which means that

PPG Cat Committee Outlines Goals


PG’s newly-formed cat committee has held its first ever meeting and outlined its goals for the short- and long-term future. Committee members include Jane Ehrlich (chair), Rebekah King, Paula Garber, Patience Fisher, Amy Martin, Francine Miller, Cynde Van Fleet, Breanna Norris, Susan Wiater, Lennea Bower and Janna Light. I was very impressed with what an incredible group of people we have gathered together. Eight of us introduced ourselves at the meeting (two sent apologies) and the enthusiasm fairly crackled through. We have since added two more members, one from England, and one from Sweden. I suggested a short list of aims for the group: 1. Increase membership of cat specialists in PPG. 2. Provide education for both the cat- and dog-specialists in PPG and beyond. 3. Provide opportunities for educational, networking and job optimization for PPG cat specialists. 4. Eventually, offer a PPG cat behavior conference. 5. Eventually, offer full accreditation for feline behavior. In addition, the group suggested some excellent topics for webinars, including introductions between dogs and resident cats (or vice versa), body language - differences and similarities in dogs and cats; aggression - dog-cat, cat-dog and cat-cat; the stress-free vet visit; the aging cat, and many more. We have our own committee Facebook page, kindly structured by Lennea Bower, and technical and organizational prowess 8

BARKS from the Guild/September 2015

professional members can access preferential rates and discounts with yet more local businesses. Professional membership is expanding at a steady rate with many existing PPG members transferring over to their local chapter and new members joining every week. Pet owner membership is also increasing rapidly, which can only be positive news as it means that we are able to educate more people about the benefits of using science-based, results-based, force-free training methods. The PPGBI Facebook page has been established to keep members and the general public up-to-date on all the news, articles, educational webinars and many other resources that are available to them, not just from PPGBI but also PPG, BARKS From The Guild and the Pet Professional Accreditation Board. There is also a PPGBI members’ group on Facebook, which acts as a communication tool for members to stay informed about events, event ideas, membership benefits and generally keep in touch with what is going on in the organization, as well as being able to communicate with other members in a private forum. If any PPGBI member would like to join the group they can do so by sending their request to the membership manager by email: For more details, see and www.facebook .com/PetProfessionalGuildBritishIsles. - Louise Stapleton-Frappell CTDI PCT-A Membership Manager, PPG British Isles from very our own talented and thoroughly indispensable member, Rebekah King. Several committee members have already posted what they consider to be crucial reading matter for feline behavior. Meetings have been set for the first Sunday of each month at 5 p.m. (MST). Off and running! At present, we have enough Cat Committee members, but if you are interested, please let us know, and we will happily keep your name on file.

- Jane Ehrlich ACBC Feline Behaviorist and Chair, PPG Cat Committee

PPG T-Shirts, Hoodies Now Available


PG members can now help advocate for force-free training and pet care in a sartorial sense. There are a host of designs and colors available. For more details and to place an order, see Available till September 14, 2015.

PPG World Service Radio Show Schedule


f you haven’t already tuned in, make a note to listen to the PPG Radio Show,, on the first Sunday of every month at 12 noon (EST). There is an incredible line-up of guests and the show is always educational and fun. Here is the current line-up (subject to change):

Sunday, September 6, 2015 - 12 noon (EDT) Register at /4002854910917852930. Guests include: Sally Hopkins, creator of the dog game, Sprinkles Jennifer Arnold, founder and executive director of Canine Assistants Dr. Lynn Honeckman, veterinarian and PPG Special Council member

NEWS Sunday, October 4, 2015 - 12 noon (EDT) Register at /7855690988271500290 Guests include: Nancy Tucker, Quebec-based dog trainer Caitlin Quinn, director of operations at Animal Farm Foundation Maureen Backman, Muzzle Up Project Sunday, November 1, 2015 - 12 noon (EDT) Guests include: Gabrielle Dunne, regional coordinator for Doggone Safe, UK and Ireland Ken McCort, Four Paws Training Center Jacqueline Munera, Positive Cattitudes Sunday, December 6, 2015 12 noon (EST) Guests include: Morag Heirs, dog trainer and regular BARKS contributor

PG is greatly saddened by the loss of member Rebekah Louise Wright, who passed away with one of her beloved dogs following an accident. Rebekah had a passion for animals from a very young age, caring for her family pets, and any injured or abandoned animals that found their way to her. She studied to be a veterinary technician but, due to an injury, was forced to change careers. She started a business pet sitting, and then worked for a time as a dog trainer for a pet store. Once introduced to positive dog training techniques she never looked back. Through videos, books and conferences Rebekah studied and honed her training skills. She then added dog training to her business offerings. As her own health deteriorated, she trained Cali, her Australian shepherd, to become her service dog. Rebekah bred and raised several litters of puppies, which she scent imprinted to recognize low blood sugar, and placed many of the puppies in homes with diabetic children. Using Skype, videos, and regular phone and email contact, Rebekah supported the families as they raised and trained these pups to be working service dogs. As her own medical needs changed, Kenzie, a golden retriever pup, joined the team. Together Kenzie and Cali worked to keep Rebekah safe, alerting to low blood sugar and syncope episodes, retrieving items, providing momentum and balance support, and finding help for Rebekah when necessary. Rebekah was involved in a tragic car accident on June 5, 2015 and was not able to overcome her injuries. She passed away on July 9, 2015. Cali also died in the accident. She and Rebekah are together again. Kenzie is here with us, providing comfort to friends and family, as she did for Rebekah. The Rebekah Wright Memorial Service Dog Foundation is

being established to honor Rebekah and to continue her work. The foundation will provide financial assistance for service dog owner/trainers who need the help of professional trainers to reach their goals. Rebekah Louise Wright, Jan 31, 1984 – July 9, 2015 - Linda Brennen CPDT

In Memoriam: Rebekah Louise Wright


© Can Stock Photo /damedeeso

Sunday, September 10, 2015 - 12 noon (EDT) Register at /2564414426944474114 Guests include: David Ryan, visiting lecturer at Newcastle University’s (UK) MSc program in Applied Animal Behaviour and Welfare Barb Levenson, dog trainer and BARKS contributor Petra Lloyd, author and teacher

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

Green Acres Kennel Shop Voted the Best


PG member Green Acres Kennel Shop,, has been voted the Bangor, Maine Region’s Best Kennel for the 14th consecutive year in a survey conducted by Market Surveys of America and the GKM Independent Survey Company. Green Acres was also voted the Bangor Region’s Best Pet Store for the ninth year in a row, the Best Dog Trainer for the fourth consecutive year, and the Best Pet Groomer for the third year in a row. “We cannot thank the great Bangor community enough for their continued support of Green Acres Kennel Shop and our employees,” said Green Acres co-owner, Don Hanson. “Caring for your pets when you go away, making them look their best, Don Hanson (left) teaching you about and colleagues with cats and dogs and how their awards to live with them in harmony, and helping you find wholesome food and quality products at a fair price, and giving back to the community; that’s what we’re all about.” BARKS from the Guild/September 2015


SUMMIT Keynote Speaker: Dr. Karen Overall Veterinarian, Author and Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist

More Amazing Presenters:

Janis Bradley - National Canine Research Council Dr. Michelle Duda - Senior Level Board Certified Behavior Analyst Dr. Soraya Juarbe-Diaz - Veterinary Behaviorist Chirag Patel - Domesticated Manners Laurie Schlossnagle - Side By Side Dog Training Maureen Backman - Mutt About Town Pamela Johnson - Pam's Dog Training Academy Jacqueline Munera - Positive Cattitudes Lara Joseph - The Animal Behavior Center Linda Michaels - Victoria Stilwell Positively Dog Training Debra Millikan - Canine Behavioural School Nancy Tucker - Education Canine 10

BARKS from the Guild/September 2015

Diana Nichols Pappert - Animal Antics Diane Garrod - Canine Transformations Learning Center Niki Tudge - The DogSmith Lisa and Brad Waggoner - Cold Nose College Lisa Morrissey - Courteous Canine Jennifer Shryock - Family Paws Parent Education Shari Sprague - PUP Rehabilitation and Conditioning Sara McLoudrey - ROOT Dog Training Scott Baggett - Paws For Justice Emily Cassell - Courteous Canine & The DogSmith of Tampa JJ Bachant Brown - The DogSmith Florida's Gulf Coast



The Venue

PPG has secured excellent room rates with The Sheraton Tampa Riverwalk Hotel: and the Aloft Tampa Downtown: When you contact the hotels, be sure to mention PPG to benefit from our special Summit rates.

More details on accommodation: More details on meal packages:

Both hotels are pet friendly. Contact them individually for more details.

See for more information on all the presenters, the venue, accommodation and meal options, the program, pricing and packages, sponsors and vendors AND MUCH MORE... BARKS from the Guild/September 2015



Pet Care Certification Program A Three-Day Workshop in Tampa, Florida Working and Auditor Spots Available

f you are a pet care provider, aspiring pet professional, dog behavior consultant, dog trainer, rescue professional, fosterer or a trainee in any of these disciplines, then this program will give you all the skills you need to safely practice in the pet industry. It has been designed to cover everything you will need to become a certified pet care technician (CPCT) and more. Each day participants will enjoy eight hours of classroom and LAB instruction and hands-on training with a selection of presenters covering a wide array of topics, including: s How Pets Learn - includes a detailed overview of operant and respondent conditioning with hands-on examples and video analysis. s Canine Behavior and Social Communication - learning the language of dogs and understanding the canine social behavior and communication systems; learning about affiliative and agonistic communication and passive and active appeasement behaviors; understanding dog bite inhibition and bite thresholds. s Canine and Feline Anatomy and Physiology - a study of dog and cat anatomy and important components of their physiology. s Canine and Feline Health and Handling - includes common canine and feline health issues, vaccination protocols and im-


module that covers in depth the many potential emergency situations you may, through first aid, need to manage prior to a pet in your care being attended to by a veterinarian. s Pet Care Tools, Equipment, Toys and Supplies - learning how to identify appropriate equipment and use it safely, as well as more practical applications, e.g. desensitization protocols. s Bonus Module: Bump Start Your Business – this module covers the key and critical skills required for growth with an overview of how to create a simple but effective marketing plan.

Certification Protocol

Working Registrants: To achieve your CPCT designation you will have the option to take a Certification Test online after the event.

Auditors: You will be required to complete the test and submit several videos to show competency in mechanical skills across several disciplines. Testing must be completed within 30 days CEUs: CCPDT 14.5 Trainers, Behavior Consultants/IAABC 29 More information and online registration:

STOP PRESS! PPG Launches Online Database for all 260 BARKS Articles

PG has launched a new online resource area, incorporating every single article ever published in BARKS since its inception in Spring 2012. Over 250 articles are currently cataloged in the archive, with a variety of categories represented, such as behavior, training, business, PPG news, book reviews, product reviews, member profiles and opinion. If you want to search on a particular species, categories currently covered are canine, feline, piscine, porcine, avian, equine, murine and leporine. Within each category, every article has been assigned a broad range of keywords, so you can search on just about anything, e.g. counterconditioning, enrichment, empathy, cat litter box problems, the canine brain, harnesses, barrier frustration, vocal parrots, stationing pigs or clicker training, to name just a few. If you are looking for a specific author, then you can find articles that way too. Every entry has a direct link to the original article in BARKS for quick and easy access. You can find the brand new Guild Archives section at 12

portant daily and emergency handling skills.

s Pet First Aid and Emergency Protocols - a very detailed

BARKS from the Guild/September 2015

The database is a work in progress and will be updated with new articles whenever a new issue of BARKS is released. In time, we will add PPG blogs, educational handouts, videos and press releases to ensure a one-stop searching experience for users. Another exciting feature is the external resources category, which will gradually be updated with articles from other sources, such as blogs, educational journals and scientific studies. Remember to check back regularly for new additions and if there is anything you /Guild-Archives would like to see covered but cannot find, let us know.

© Can Stock Photo/damedeeso

© Can Stock Photo/damedeeso


Friday, October 9, 2015 - 9:30 a.m. (EDT) - Sunday, October 11, 2015 - 6 p.m. (EDT)


Chicken Clicker Camp With Terry Ryan A Four-Day Chicken Clicker Camp in Tampa, Florida


Saturday, April 30, 2016 - 9 a.m. (EDT) - Tuesday, May 3, 2016 - 4 p.m. (EDT) Working and Auditor Spots Available

earn shaping, targeting and discrimination skills at our fourday chicken camp with renowned dog trainer, Terry Ryan. Why attend a chicken camp to improve your clicker training skills? Firstly, you do not have bad or good chicken training habits because you have (probably) never trained a chicken before, thus avoiding the baggage often taken to dog training workshops. Training a chicken is a stretch and a boost to your mechanical skills. The average chicken is faster than the average dog, giving you a chance to improve your coordination and timing. Chickens will freeze or fly away if they do not like the way you are training them. Unlike dogs, you will know immediately if you are taking advantage of a chicken or pushing too hard, too fast. Chickens do not give their trainers a second chance as dogs so often do. Each working spot student will be partnered with another human and a chicken to train. You will take turns training your chicken and helping to coach your partner.


Key Topics Covered: s Mechanical Skills - Drills for Coordination,Timing, Observation. s Umwelt - How Individuals Acquire, Process, Store Information. s Selection, Identification and Effective Marking (Use of Bridge) of Training Criteria. s Reinforcement: Rate/Schedule/Value/Delivery/Quantity, 80 per cent Rule, Premack Principle. s Capturing and Shaping Behaviors. s Criteria Selection and Identification. s Goal Setting. s Task Analysis. s Lateral Thinking Techniques. CEUs: CCPDT 21/IAABC 25/KPA 21/PPG 24 More information and online registration:

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Preventing Unwanted Feline Behaviors with Learn How to Train 16 Obedience Cues Patience Fisher Level - Intermediate Thursday, September 3, 2015 - 7 p.m. - 8 p.m. (EDT) A Five-Day Dog Training Workshop with Reactive Dogs - The Science and Art of Set Ups and Angelica Steinker and Niki Tudge (Tampa, FL) The Use of Decoy Dogs to Achieve Success with Monday, September 21, 2015 - 8 a.m. (EDT) Yvette Van Veen Friday, September 25, 2015 - 6 p.m. (EDT) Sunday, September 13, 2015 - 12 p.m. - 1:30 p.m. (EDT) Pet Care Certification Program with Rebekah King, Trade Show and Pet Business Event Management Skills Melody McMichael, Angelica Steinker and Niki Tudge: with Niki Tudge Three-Day Workshop to Help You Professionalize Your Tuesday, September 15, 2015 - 12 p.m. - 1:30 p.m. (EDT) Pet Care Business (Tampa, FL) Disaster Preparedness Drills and Safety for Your Dog Friday, October 9, 2015 - 9:30 a.m. (EDT) with Pamela Johnson Sunday, October 11, 2015 - 6 p.m. (EDT) Sunday, September 27, 2015 - 8 p.m. - 9:30 p.m. (EDT) A Weekend Of Canine Fun What are Bridging Stimuli and How Many Types Are Up Your Training Game! There? with Angelica Steinker A Two-Day Dog Training Tuesday, October 06, 2015 - 2 p.m. - 3 p.m. (EDT) Workshop with Niki Tudge and A More Thoughtful Approach To Shaping Creates More Angelica Steinker (Tampa, FL) Precise Behaviors; Learn How To Improve your Shaping Saturday, October 17, 2015 - 8:30 a.m. Mechanics with Yvette Van Veen (EDT) Sunday, October 11, 2015 -12 p.m. - 1:30 p.m. (EDT) Sunday, October 18, 2015 - 5:30 p.m. The Biology of Socialization with Dr. Jessica Hekman (EDT) Wednesday, October 28, 2015 - 8 p.m. - 9 p.m. (EDT) A Four-Day Chicken Clicker Learn How to Live with A Thunder Phobic Dog Camp with Terry Ryan with Tonya Wilhelm (Tampa, FL) Greta Tudge, PPG Chicken Thursday, December 03, 2015 - 12 p.m. - 1:30 p.m. (EST) Saturday, April 30, 2016 - 9 a.m. (EDT) - Camp faculty member and entertainment director Tuesday, May 3, 2016 4 p.m. (EDT) Details of all upcoming webinars can be found at: Details of all upcoming workshops can be found at: A recording is made available within 48 hours of all PPG webinars BARKS from the Guild/September 2015



The Rollercoaster of Reactivity

Mary Jean Alsina

explains how to raise a dog that walks

happily on a leash, as well as how to

modify the emotions and problem

behaviors that a leash can


Leash reactivity is a commonly reported problem in dogs

eash reactivity can be one of the most common (and embarrassing) problems dog owners deal with on a daily basis. It is also one of the most requested behavioral issues I work on with clients. Disapproving glances from passersby, the constant feeling of being out of control, and not having a grasp on how to address the behavior are all concerns for owners of leash-reactive dogs. Dogs may react poorly when on leash for a variety of reasons, which can include fear, excitement, pent-up energy or frustration. Being aware of the underlying emotions and motivations behind the reactivity is essential to understanding it but, whatever the cause, reactivity can often be dealt with quite successfully through classical conditioning. Dogs should be taught at a very young age that, when they are on leash and see other dogs, people, motorcycles, trucks or any other stimulus that they are unsure about, they should look up at the owner, which will result in praise and a fabulous piece 14

BARKS from the Guild/September 2015

© Can Stock Photo/eldadcarin

sometimes evoke

of food. This makes it clear to a puppy that all of these stimuli predict wonderful things will happen. Socialization like this is critical before a dog is 12 weeks old, since dogs are most sensitive to learning what is and is not safe at this period in their lives. Of course, adult dogs can also learn to walk well on leash but it is much simpler to instill the behavior in younger dogs, if one has the opportunity. The goal is for puppies to learn as early as possible before any negative associations take hold. Many dogs that are on leash go into fight or flight mode when they spot another dog or person at a distance they are not comfortable with. They do not, however, have a choice to flee because of their attachment to a leash, and may feel left with no other option than to “fight." The lunging, barking, whining and growling can all be attempts to create the distance necessary to ensure the dog’s safety or to keep the threat at bay. At this point, a battle ensues in the dog's brain whereby the amygdala orders the hypothalmus to secrete more CRF (corticotropin-releasing

COVER STORY shoving the machine in an attempt to shake the Doritos loose because they are unable to get what they want. The shoving produces nothing and they are as close to getting the Doritos as they were at the beginning of this fiasco. The frustration builds even further.Yelling may commence. This is similar to what our social, friendly dogs experience when they cannot get to a dog or person they desperately want to reach. The frustration soars and the barking, lunging and other behaviors are indicative of this frustration. Once a dog is fitted with the correct equipment, such as a no-pull harness, it is time to embark on a plan to improve the unwanted behavior and turn it into a desired behavior. Depending on the severity of the problem, this can take a good amount of time, and the reactivity may never be completely removed. Pavlovian desensitization and counterconditioning are extremely successful, scientific ways to achieve improvement for leash-reactive dogs. The first step in lessening leash reactivity is gaining the dog's attention. With the absence of attention, many over-threshold reactions can occur. Teaching the dog a “look at me” cue while inside the house where there are no distractions is a wonderful first step. This “look at me” cue is very effective for unexpected situations when you need your dog's attention quickly. If you see something approaching that might upset your dog before he sees it, this is a very convenient way to efficiently make him focus on you while passing the problem stimulus. What we want the dog to comprehend is that the sight (or sound) of a dog, or whatever stimulus upsets him, means that he will get his most favorite treats. These can include cheese, hot dogs, freeze-dried fish or so many other delicious options, every time, 100 percent of the time. This cannot be stressed enough because consistency can be the difference between success and failure. In order to see improvement when executing this work, there are a few critical aspects that must be taken into account: distance, timing and mechanics.


Concerning distance, if a dog is too close to a stimulus that causes leash reactivity, he will be spending most of the time over

A leashed dog may be experiencing a fearful emotional state when displaying reactivity

BARKS from the Guild/September 2015

© Can Stock Photo/Nejron

factor, a hormone involved in stress response) while, at the same time, the hippocampus orders the hypothalmus to decrease production of CRF. These two differing orders given from the two parts of the brain act to set an accurate physiological response to what danger is actually occurring. (Lindsay, 2000, p. 109). This is when many owners erroneously believe that they have to “correct” the behavior with a harsh verbal cue or leash correction. As a result, the dog may cease exhibiting the reactive behavior at that moment but the correction only serves as a Band-Aid to the problem, if it serves to stop it at all. More likely, the next dog or person that approaches will be greeted with that same reaction, perhaps even with increased intensity. What the dog is in fact learning through the corrections and yelling is that he has a reason to be distressed. “We are all yelling together. I do have a reason to be worried. Get away you intruder!” he thinks. The dog views the other dog or person as a cause for concern, fear and negative associations. Clearly, this person or dog is upsetting the dog's owner and must be kept away at all costs. Owners may then feel compelled to take another step, perhaps on the advice of friends or a well-meaning pet store employee, and use a choke or prong collar, hoping this may fix the problem behavior on the assumption that dogs will not pull or react if doing so results in pain. While some dogs may indeed lessen the intensity of the behavior because the collar causes pain, the negative associations that are being created will be that much harder to undo in the long run. Not to mention the fact that nothing is being done to address the dog’s emotional state, which is the real key here. The risk is that the dog will start to believe that every dog or person who comes close now predicts pain. In his never-ending task to keep these intruders away and avoid that pain, the dog may start to lunge and bark more ferociously. What may have started as leash reactivity due to excitement can easily turn into a type of reactivity that is nowhere near as approachable. This is a very common occurrence in the world of dog training. Countless well-meaning owners who long for a “normal” dog, as if that exists, take their sweet, excitable Labrador retriever to the nearest pet store and get him fitted for whatever it takes to allow the walker to gain control of the dog. The wrong equipment risks causing further damage to the dog's body and psyche and ultimately serves only to intensify the problem. In regards to equipment, no-pull harnesses are an effective start to help gain control. The right equipment is, of course, only one step in a multi-step process, but it can help set the dog up for success when used correctly. Because of their behavior, many dogs will appear to be rather unfriendly when they are on leash and people may automatically assume they are encountering an aggressive dog. Many of these dogs, when they are off leash, are extremely friendly. They may only lunge, whine and bark because the leash frustrates them. Frustrated humans may react similarly. Consider a person putting a dollar in a vending machine and pressing C9 for Doritos. The Doritos start to move slowly forward getting ready to drop and, all of a sudden, they stop and the machine goes quiet. The person presses C9 over and over with increasing pressure, as if pushing it harder will make the Doritos drop down. The frustration is building. The Doritos still do not fall, so the person resorts to



© Can Stock Photo/hannadarzy

A leash gives a dog no option to escape, leaving him little recourse but to behave aggressively in an attempt to keep the perceived threat at bay

In some contexts, the leash acts as a barrier, frustrating the dog and preventing him from going where he wants to go

threshold, which will accomplish nothing except perhaps to make the behavior increase in severity. The more the dog sees that his barking and lunging make the offending dog or person go away, the more the behavior is being reinforced and will therefore continue. The way to keep a dog under threshold is to provide the distance where the dog feels comfortable so he does not feel the need to react. This is the desensitization piece of the puzzle. If that means walking down a driveway, an alley, back into the house, doing a U-turn and walking back the other way, or setting up in a park where distance can be easily manipulated, then this is what is done. The goal is to have no over-threshold reactions. Reading body language is the key to knowing if one is approaching the dog’s distance threshold. If a dog freezes, will not take food, growls, “locks in” with the eyes, goes from a relaxed, open mouth to a quickly-shut mouth, leans forward, or gets into a stalking position low to the ground, the distance should be increased to a place where these signals are no longer present.


The next crucial piece is the timing. What we want the dog to clearly see is that the appearance of a dog, person, mail truck or whatever else stimulates reactivity will immediately predict a marker (clicker or word, such as “yes”). His favorite food immediately follows the marker and he continues getting food until the stimulus is out of sight. Timing is critical. If an owner waits too long to mark, the dog can immediately start reacting, thus solidifying another over-threshold reaction. This same procedure must be used every time. The main goal is for the dog to see another dog or person and make eye contact with his handler. The dog has now made the connection: the stimulus that previously made him react negatively now means he will get treats. He is developing a happy conditioned emotional response. The association is being made and now the behavior can start to move in a more positive direction. This means at this distance or further, the dog is becoming more relaxed. Moving closer should not be rushed and should only take place inches at a time to ensure positive results and no over-threshold reactions.

© Can Stock Photo/hannadarzy



BARKS from the Guild/September2015

The third piece is mechanics. Backwards conditioning can occur if the handler does not execute the plan properly. A dog learning in a Pavlovian manner must see that the stimulus predicts food. If the handler has the food in sight or a hand remaining in a bait bag, the dog can actually start to think the food is predicting the focus of the reactivity. The food should be kept in a bait bag on the opposite side of the dog or in the opposite hand behind the back completely out of sight. The food does not make an appearance until another dog, person or other potential problem appears. Occasionally the handler can play with the food in the dog's view but not give the dog any, then hide it once again, as this strengthens the connection that the food arrives only at the sight of the undesirable stimulus. The dog should also be kept on a shorter leash so the

feeding can be quick and immediate upon sight of whatever causes reactivity. Once the dog is making eye contact with the walker after spotting the focus of reactivity, it is time to start implementing operant conditioning and the use of a differential reinforcement of incompatible behavior. In the beginning stages of working with a leash-reactive dog, the food, tug toy or preferred item which is used to classically condition is not contingent upon the dog's behavior, but simply appears when the focus of reactivity comes into view. But for the next step in the process, the food or toy will be contingent upon the dog This dog is showing signs of anxiety performing some type of behavwhile out for a leash walk ior: perhaps a sit, down or watch while the person walks by.


In addition to distance, timing, and mechanics, there are some further tips to keep in mind while moving through this process. Consistency is extremely critical to success because again, any over- threshold reaction can set back progress. Every person (including the dog walker and family members) who walks the dog should be conducting the walks in exactly the same manner or the improvement will not continue. The type of food can also make a big difference in how long it takes to make a positive association. If a dog gets plain dog biscuits on a daily basis, in most cases, that will not be as expeditious in forming a positive association when outside. The food must be powerful. It needs to be something the dog does not get frequently, thoroughly loves and would do anything for.

leash-reactive dog is handling off-leash dogs who come charging accompanied by a misinformed owner yelling, “It's okay, she's friendly!” That is the last thing an owner of a reactive dog wants to hear when confronted with this scenario. What a considerable setback this can be for a reactive dog in training, because if the off-leash dog comes in close proximity to the reactive dog, the frightened dog may justifiably lash out and snap or bite to protect himself. In addition, a frustrated greeter can learn that lunging and excitability will allow him to play with the dog that has approached, thus reinforcing the undesired behavior. As an owner of a reactive dog, being prepared is a high priority since we can only control our own actions, and not, unfortunately, those of others. If a dog charges or runs towards the reactive dog and the handler cannot get her dog out of the situation, there are a couple of strategies to use which can be effective in slowing the approaching dog. One suggestion is to loudly yell, “Stop!” while throwing a handful of treats in the oncoming dog's direction. This will halt many dogs and encourage them to proceed to look for the food on the ground which can buy © Can Stock Photo/glopphy time to get out of sight into a safe environment. There are also vests for dogs that have a variety of labels on them, which some people with reactive dogs choose to buy. They may state, “Not Good with Other Dogs” or “Fearful Dog in Training.” These can be helpful in a closer proximity but at a distance, they do not give the owner much security from dogs running into their space.


Along Came Charlie


Yet another important factor is management of any situation which might elicit reactivity from the dog. An owner can fastidiously do this hard work all week for every morning and evening walk, yet progress can be slow. Why? The owner does not realize that for eight hours while she is at work, the dog sits at the front window and reacts to every passing dog, person or truck thus strengthening his reactivity without the owner's knowledge. Shades pulled, blinds closed or frosted decorative window film can be a great help in eliminating these all-day reactions. Many owners also use management when choosing the times for walks. Reactive dogs and their owners can be easy to spot because often they are the ones that can be seen walking at less popular times of the day such as 5 a.m. or 11 p.m. This is advantageous in controlling the environment and the amount of stimuli, but will not help much in carrying out the work necessary to improve. If an owner chooses to walk at off-peak hours, time should be allocated to set up in a spot at a park, for example, to perform the desensitization and counterconditioning work. One of the most frustrating elements of working with a

Around the summer of 2013, I got a call from a charming woman named Amy who told me she had just adopted an adorable chocolate Labrador retriever, named Charlie, for whom she was interested in receiving training. Charlie had had quite a rough start in life. He and his brother, at around seven weeks old, were left in a driveway in a cardboard box after his other siblings were sold at a fair in South Carolina. My heart broke for Charlie when I heard his story and I was thrilled, as always, to work with a puppy. I was also elated to be able to help mold him into the therapy dog for which Amy had high hopes. When I first met Charlie, I immediately fell in love. I taught Charlie his first sit, down and many other behaviors. We developed a close bond. Amy also enjoyed training him and did all the right things when it came to socialization. Charlie met a variety of different people and Amy took him to a myriad of different places. She did puppy-group training, along with the private sessions with me. Charlie was on his way to stardom and we so enjoyed our sessions together. Upon reaching social maturity though, Charlie started showing some signs of reactivity on BARKS from the Guild/September 2015



walks that made Amy quite unsettled. One day during a training session she said, “Charlie lunged and barked like crazy today at a motorcycle. Why is this happening? He was absolutely fine!” These comments began to grow more frequent over the next few weeks so we embarked on a plan to show Charlie that the growing list of people, vehicles and animals he had started reacting to were actually wonderful for him to see. From then on Amy and I worked tirelessly with Charlie on desensitizing and counterconditioning him to other dogs, close passersby, motorcycles, bikes, skateboards, scooters and loud trucks. If anything, the list seemed to be growing. Amy was devastated because her dreams of Charlie becoming a therapy dog were diminishing by the day. However, she was dedicated, focused and determined, and stayed on task. Time passed and there were some good weeks and some difficult ones too. Working with dogs with leash reactivity can be a rollercoaster ride, and Amy and her husband were certainly feeling the crazy turns and upside down loops. I urged her to stay focused and keep going. As a trainer, working with a leash-reactive dog goes deeper than simply focusing on the dog. The owners require an extensive amount of support and guidance along the way. They need coaching, positive reinforcement, helpful tips on their technique and sometimes just a shoulder to cry on. Over time, Charlie started making some steady progress and the number of difficult weeks began to decrease. Because of Amy's and Michael's persistence, consistency, patience and dedication, Charlie has improved remarkably and can now walk past other reactive dogs, motorcycles, people and other stimuli that previously would have upset him. Currently his behavior is calm, attentive to the walker and exactly what Amy had hoped for. It was not an easy road by any means and there Charlie was well socialized as a puppy but started showing signs of leash reactivity as he reached social maturity

will still be days that something may cause Charlie to lunge or bark, depending on the context, but the progress he has made has bolstered his confidence and assisted him in relaxing and enjoying his walks. This video of Charlie happily interacting with another dog sums up what months of hard work can achieve. I surely would not count him out yet as a future therapy dog. Despite the grim start Charlie had, he will most likely be able to give his love as therapy to people that need it. Dogs like Charlie require dedication and patience on the part of both owner and trainer. Like most behavior problems, modification can take time and be very emotionally taxing, but the rewards are well worth the effort. Amy and Michael now get a quick heads-up from Charlie as a motorcycle whizzes by. This healthy behavior is a reward for both Charlie and his owners for the months of work spent helping him learn that his world while on leash is safe. n


Lindsay, S. (2000). Handbook of Applied Dog Behavior and Training,Volume One: Adaptation and Learning. Ames, Iowa: Iowa State Press. Video Charlie's Success Story: _lbivud4U&feature=em-share_video_user Mary Jean Alsina PCT-A CPDT-KA MA owns and operates The Canine Cure, LLC,, in Northern New Jersey. She has a master’s +30 in education and is a certified pet dog trainer. She studied at The Academy for Dog Trainers and is a regular dog training columnist for She is also a member of Doggone Safe and is a certified CGC evaluator for the AKC.

Charlie was able to overcome his reactivity issues with a behavior modification program incorporating desensitization and counterconditioning


BARKS from the Guild/September 2015

Running in Circles



Jane Gerard looks into the plight of the rescue dog and describes her methods for training, socializing and exercising dogs in shelter environments to provide greater mental enrichment

t is often stated that the relinquishment of dogs to animal shelters in Europe and the US is largely due to behavior issues (American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior, 2008; Miklósi, 2007). I am saddened but not surprised by this. As a trainer I have witnessed it many times. Perhaps around half my clients have adopted rescue dogs and they often present with behavior issues. With behavior modification and training these can eventually be extinguished in many cases, but it takes time and commitment. If a shelter is well run and adequately funded, then the training and rehabilitation of dogs can save their lives. But many shelters struggle with a lack of funding and overcrowding. Overworked staff spend the day maintaining the routine of cleaning, feeding and administering medications. As such, very little time is left for training. Instead, shelter staff often rely heavily on volunteers who struggle to walk powerful dogs with little or no training and few social skills. We know that training using methods based on scientific research shows us how dogs learn. If a dog is trained using operant conditioning, then he learns behaviors because he wants to, or that he can “make things happen, either good or bad, by choosing behaviors that are either rewarded or punished… [and] can operate on [or manipulate] his environment by his behavior.” (Miller, 2008). Knowing this (and if we are able to), we can change the environment in order to achieve success in training. Training like this with an awareness of the immediate and distant environmental influences will determine our success rate. Changes in the environment “affect how our dogs behave.” (McConnell, 2002). It seems to me if we can change our dogs’ environments to help solve the problem behaviors, then we definitely should be doing just that, even in a rescue environment. In most shelters, dogs are housed side-by-side in metal kennels. Some have doggie doors that allow the dogs to defecate a little distance from where they sleep. Most have no area where they can hide from the public. The environment can be bleak and noisy. In these circumstances it is no wonder dogs are returned because of behavior issues (American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior, 2008; Miklósi, 2007). Other rescue groups I work with exist on a meager grant. The dogs may all be housed outdoors in square 10 feet by 10 feet pens with tarps and wood siding to protect them from the elements. Many dogs live in these environments for months with little visual stimulation or training, and behaviors such as barking, digging, fence biting, spinning and aggression are all too common. Monetary restrictions may not allow for professional daily training or environmental enrichment.

Dogs are often abandoned at or returned to shelters because of cited behavior issues

Some dogs that are labeled aggressive are in fact frustrated by their environment and their living conditions. They have no outlet other than to bark furiously at the first visitor who walks by. Environmental enrichment for dogs to a lot of people means giving the dog something to chew on or a toy that encourages mental stimulation but this may not always be enough. Environments for dogs in general are lacking and in this case I am referring to certain boarding facilities or animal shelters, and even some dog owners’ back yards. When we look to the zoological field and see what we have learned about environmental enrichment - including habitat design - it becomes obvious we have not applied this to dogs. Exotic animal species in captivity in many cases are better off than domesticated companion and farm animals. It is as though our familiarity born of close proximity has blinded us to what dogs really need. Enriching the environment stimulates and creates physical and cerebral activity for captive animals. This is no different for dogs. Although every breed has specific genetic traits that influence what is natural to them, the one thing we can all agree on that most dogs do like interaction or play and exercise with humans and/or another dog. (Hubrecht, 1995). If an environment were designed to aid dogs’ natural development rather than hinder or even suppress it, then maybe we need to rethink of the way dogs are housed. Standard kennels that are built side by side with doggie doors and runs are economical, easy to clean and allow staff to move dogs in and out BARKS from the Guild/September 2015



Using fencing, author Jane Gerard created two circles to allow for greater interaction, a more stimulating environment and freedom of movement when working with shelter dogs


BARKS from the Guild/September 2015

without too much trouble. Note how this is typical of all our designs for dog housing, i.e. it is convenient for us but not necessarily conducive to a socially fit dog. We need to be asking: Does typical housing used for dogs cause frustration? Does it allow movement and interaction and privacy? When I interview my clients in the first session, I ask them what exercise they provide for their dog. Frequently the response is, “He has the back yard,” or “I walk her round the block when I get back from work.” Many owners give excessive treats and chew toys or bones to occupy the dog in lieu of an actual activity. I see more dogs today on medication than 10 years ago in an effort to calm them down. Admittedly, walking or exercising a companion dog varies greatly from town to town or state and country. In Europe it is common practice to walk a dog twice if not three times day because of the lack of space. Most people do not have large gardens or yards. In rural areas in the US the opposite is true. In my neighborhood we still have roaming dogs, others have farm dogs or, worse yet, dogs chained outside that serve merely to deter the intruder. In these circumstances and based on my own experience working in these areas, little thought is given to a dog’s needs. In metropolitan areas sometimes dog parks are provided. Most are well-used pieces of land enclosed in a chain linked fence of varying size. Most have no topography of any interest and all have too many dogs and not enough stimulation from the environment, making the dogs more likely to turn to each other. Needless to say, some have better social skills than others and fights are a real threat if the dog lacks adequate socialization. For the professional working with economically disadvantaged clients, thinking up ways to save the dogs and train the people can be exceptionally challenging. Determining what a dog really needs is not universal knowledge. Some owners I work with love their dogs as though they are children, yet they may still lack knowledge on what the dog needs. Others I work with treat dogs as commodities and abuse can be just one step away. Many people come to me with dogs for behavior modification and training, some of which are rescued dogs adopted from the local shelter or a rescue group. Nearly all have the same issues, and have lacked exposure to the right kind of socialization early on. Dogs who have been rescued or have behavior issues often need a lot of attention and rehabilitation but many owners are simply unable to commit to this. It is labor and time intensive. Also, because the owner is at work most of the day, the dog is either crated or penned outside. When the tired owner returns from work he/she has neither the time nor energy to exercise the dog, much less train him. Developing a system that utilizes the dog’s environment to reinforce desirable behaviors would be of tremendous benefit in this all too common scenario. In my work in local rescue, I decided I needed to find a way that would enable people to train and socialize dogs in their respective shelter facilities, so I designed a training circle that is 33 feet in diameter with an inner circle. The alleyway the dogs actually run in is 3 feet wide. The idea behind this is that the dogs will keep moving as there is nothing to stop them. I also designed a 50 foot ring around the whole thing and draped black cloth over

TRAINING Does typical housing used for dogs reinforce stereotypical behavior?

the inner fence so that the inner circle was shrouded from view. This made it more interesting for the dogs as they could not see past the bend. Now it is all set up, I have clients walk on the outside ring and encourage the “come” behavior from the dog on the inside ring. This aids clients by helping them gain competency and confidence in a hands-off training approach. Targeting can be practiced by wedging a tennis ball in the fence in order to develop stationing skills. This helps tremendously with jumping dogs and the classic barge-through-the-gate behavior. No one can get hurt using this system.Young children and seniors can easily work with their dogs through the fence. If animal shelters invested in this design, then even the most elderly or frail volunteer would be able to clicker train the strongest dogs through the fence, including targeting, “walk by my side” or “come.” Moving in a constant circle without interruption even facilitates learning in my experience. If a plan like this to develop environmental influencers or antecedents was implemented at the beginning of the rescue and rehabilitation process, then we might see a shift in dog behavior too. My circle training ring also enables me to work several dogs at once. The dogs are still able to interact, but because the design is circular, i.e. a “run” that never stops, it encourages uninterrupted movement from the dogs. Another advantage is that I can place a dog who lacks social skills in one ring, with another dog who is better adjusted socially in a separate ring. In this way the socially well-adjusted dog is able to safely help the other dog through the fence by creating games like “chase me.” The dogs never hit a wall or gate and do not have to stop or turn around. I have traditional fencing too, which has corners. I observe fence activity as the dogs run to the end and “hit” the right- angled fence that stops their forward movement. Dogs in a fenced area that is square have a different facial expression. We may want to ask ourselves whether we create adverse behavior from the moment of birth by using standard kenneling. Are we institutionalizing our dogs without realizing it? Are we reinforcing stereotypical behavior because of environmental design? Perhaps if more shelters had training circles instead of standard runs the dogs would be trained more quickly and easily gain much-needed social skills. This could certainly help in the adoption process and the ultimate goal of keeping more dogs in homes. n


American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior. Position Statement on Puppy Socialization. (2008). Retrieved from _socialization.pdf Hubrecht, R. (1995). The Welfare of Dogs. In Serpell, J. (Ed.), The Domestic Dog its Evolution, Behavior and Interactions with People (p. 193). Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. McConnell, P. (2002). The Other End of the Leash. New York, NY: Ballantine Books. Miklósi, A. (2007). Dog Behavior, Evolution and Cognition. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press. Miller, P. (2008). The Power of Positive Training. Somerset, NJ: Howell Book House. Jane Gerard CPDT-KA has worked with animals for over 30 years. She has trained horses, llama, alpacas, sheep, cows, dolphins, sea lions, seals, birds, cats and dogs in Europe, Bahamas, Mexico and the US. She built her first training and boarding facility in Taos, New Mexico with an emphasis on the natural environment for the dogs and the rescued horse. She is currently working on her second facility aimed at teaching pet owners the importance of socialization and training using such tools as the circle training ring. She conducts workshops and classes, has been featured in local radio shows and magazines and rescues horses whenever she can. See Jane Trains,, for more details.

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BARKS from the Guild/September 2015



The Art, Science and Ethics of Using Decoy Dogs Yvette Van Veen outlines how to safely and successfully use decoy dogs in behavior


modification programs


© Can Stock Photo/hannadarzy

earning to work with a reactive, make the exercise easier. Both dogs anxious or fearful dog is a chalshould want to continue. lenging process. Dog owners espeNot all dogs make suitable decoys. cially struggle. They must learn new skills Puppies require many positive social exand execute them correctly, while workperiences. Do not place them in situaing with a difficult, if not dangerous, dog. tions that might compromise In such situations, owners are often socialization. Dogs with poor bounce robbed of the opportunity to begin back or who startle easily are not cut basic skills with an easy dog. It is not an out for the job. Dogs with behavioral isideal way for anyone to learn. sues clearly need to have their own Decoy dogs are one way in which problems addressed – and not act as we, as behavior consultants, can create decoy for someone else. some flexibility. Rather than honing skills Choose decoy dogs wisely. Decoy during chance encounters during walks, dogs, when utilized fully, are animals families can practice skills in the preswho engage in jobs that may come with ence of a trained and predictable dog. some risk. If carefully done, accidents The focus can be on the task at hand are unlikely. However, risk is not to be and, more importantly, on the dog beignored or dismissed. fore them. To minimize the risk, use safety Using a decoy dog is more than simequipment as required. This might mean ply adding a calm dog into a training sesthe use of muzzles, leashes and perhaps sion. A trained decoy dog is a even a backup tether. These tools are a highly-skilled collaborative partner with backup plan, and are ideally not someA decoy dog can help a reactive dog overcome a specific skill set. He is not an animal thing we ever want to use. It is like any frustration triggered by the leash we just happen upon during a walk, nor wearing a seatbelt when driving a car. is he a dog who is stalked without the owner’s knowledge or You do not want to use it and you do not drive dangerously beconsent. Using decoy dogs ethically and effectively takes some cause you happen to be wearing a seatbelt.You wear a seatbelt careful planning. regardless. There is no shame in having that little extra bit of proOur obligations extend to the client, their dog and to the tection if it can help prevent an accident. decoy. It is prudent to examine what each of these individuals reGive hazard pay to decoy dogs. Do not take a decoy’s skills quires in order to be successful. for granted. Forgetting to pay the decoy for work done well can lead to weak behaviors. Take advantage of situations that lend themselves to creating stronger positive associations. An excelThe Decoy Dog lent decoy dog wants nothing more than to participate. Training and rehabilitation programs revolve around the dog in Most importantly, if a client ever refuses or fails to follow dineed. However, both dogs in a training situation are always learnrections, placing the decoy dog at risk – protect the decoy. A ing and making new associations. What we do with one dog indecoy dog is not a replaceable business asset. He is a companion. variably affects the other. We should never forget that the most bombproof dog could deteriorate if we forget to consider the The ClientÊs Dog training program from his point of view. How and when decoy dogs are used depends on the training We need to limit our strategies to those that keep dogs needs of the client’s dog. For example, confusing the needs of a under threshold. Each above threshold response, displacement leash-reactive dog with an anxious dog can lead to misuse of the behavior and warning sign that whispers, “I am not comfortable” decoy. That can lead to scenarios where the client’s dog struggles. is on full display to the decoy. If the client’s dog is worried or The leash-reactive dog needs to learn how to focus and walk wants to leave, the decoy can clearly see this. Our training plan politely on leash. Typically, we use operant conditioning to overshould not involve putting either dog in a position where they come the frustration that is triggered by the leash. Like any other are uncomfortable enough to want to leave. There simply is no operant conditioning process, we would start in a quiet place. good reason to ask a decoy to work in those conditions. We Duration, distance and distractions are added later in the have choices. We can choose to change our approach. We can BARKS from the Guild/September 2015


process. Adding the decoy ence as possible without comat the beginning would be promising the progress of the like starting loose-leash dog. It is really a delicate balwalking in a crowded park. ance between giving the dog It is bad form and would the breaks he needs and giving set us up for failure from the client time to practice. the outset. A trainer’s dog is an intimiFearful and anxious dating thing to many owners. dogs are often helped with Our dogs are often seen as classical counterconditionbeing easy or exceptional. Do ing. The trigger predicts not hesitate to point out your something the dog likes; dog’s journey, warts and all. For strong conditioning to take place, the intertrial interval should be significantly longer than the interstimulus interval usually high value food Make the decoy accessible to treats. The trigger needs to be present and noticed for this to the client. Our dogs are not there to stroke our egos, but to help take place. When no trigger is present, we do not give any treats. with coaching and to inspire clients. We need to add the decoy at the beginning of the training Our exceptional dogs need to learn how to behave like a real process and then adjust difficulty by changing the intensity of the dog. In real life, few dogs are calm and well-mannered. If barking is trigger. part of the trigger, it helps to have a dog that barks on cue. If fast, There truly are times when it is best to put the decoy away. darting dogs are a difficult distraction, it helps to have a dog that Using a trained decoy dog can tempt us into doing more repetiwill run and dart in a limited area on cue. Dogs in the real world tions – repeatedly walking back and forth past the anxious dog. suddenly pop out from behind parked cars. A decoy can imitate We might gleefully see dramatic results from the beginning of the these scenarios and allow families to practice responding. session to the end. Unfortunately, this result is likely temporary. On the other hand, clients need to feel safe. Our dogs need to After a break, the fear is likely to return. have strong impulse control. A decoy dog should ignore dropped To create strong associations, the dog needs long breaks befood, especially if working near resource guarding dogs. A planned tween the end of one trial and the beginning of the next. This is training session should not become an all-out brawl because two the intertrial interval. Many experiments on classical conditioning dogs bolted for the same stray cookie. space trials more than five minutes apart. For strong conditioning Decoy dogs do not get any ribbons or medals.Yet they influto take place, this intertrial interval should be significantly longer ence many. So many families I know forget my dog’s tricks but than the interstimulus interval (Domjan, 2015, p. 84). As easy and they remember the firsts their dogs had with my decoys – the as tempting as it is to do more repetitions, walking back and first butt sniff, the first time walking calmly past a dog, the first forth is not in the dog’s best interest. During breaks, we need to time their dog play bowed to another. have a safe place where the decoy dog can wait. Butt sniffs might not be glamorous but they certainly are speAs we move the decoy about, we need to take care that our cial milestones. While decoys open the possibility to many novel handling does not undermine progress. Our actions can tip off training scenarios, we need to view their use from all angles if we the client’s dog. The dog discriminates between the set up and want to use them ethically, effectively and responsibly. n real life. Potentially, we might condition the dog to the wrong For more on this topic, join us for the PPG LIVE Webinar: stimuli altogether. Reactive Dogs - The Science and Art of Set Ups and The Use of Actions such as walking away, retrieving the decoy dog, openDecoy Dogs to Achieve Success ing the crate door, using cones as visual markers – they all Sunday, September 13, 2015 at 12pm - 1:30pm (EDT) scream “setup!” Be predictably unpredictable. The decoy dog Register at: should be reliable, but the scenarios should not have the appearReferences ance of a set up. Domjan, M. (2014). The Principles of Learning and Behavior. Occasionally, walk away and return without the decoy. Use Independence, KY: Cengage Learning. more than one decoy dog to vary the appearance of the approaching dog. Approach from a new direction. Send the decoy Yvette Van Veen PCT-A is dog behavior consultant and into the area on a long line without the handler visibly present owner of Awesome Dogs, She is also but only if the decoy can do so safely. Do it all while keeping all a long-time columnist and multiple Dog Writers Association the dogs under threshold. of America award nominee, and currently writes a regular column for The Toronto Star. She has worked with rescue dogs for more than 14 years, focusing mainly on rural, roaming and The Client feral rescue dogs from communities throughout Ontario and Clients also need to know what to expect. The better they unQuebec, Canada. She is also the creator of Awesome Dogs derstand what is being done and why, the more likely they will Shareables,, an follow instructions. educational meme site providing resources and training tips in Keep exercises easy so clients can develop their skills. Our small, shareable formats. plans and decoy use should give them as much hands-on experiBARKS from the Guild/September 2015



A Positive Exchange

Cecelia Sumner examines resource guarding, such a normal canine behavior and yet one


that can cause so many problems in the human world

ne of my general observations This dog is guarding her bone and may bite if her about dogs is they are not good signals are ignored and she at sharing. From a canine point of feels her precious resource view, attention, food, toys, even a comfort- is any further threatened able resting place might be worth protecting from encroachment. And, the encroachers might be any species, humans, canines or even felines can be subject to threats or attacks by a dog determined to retain a coveted item or location. When I was a child, my parents always cautioned me about approaching a dog when he was eating. As an adult, I can understand why this is good advice, if only the tip of the resource guarding iceberg. Many of us are surprised to find our dogs baring their teeth over a bone or toy, yet this is totally normal canine behavior. Nevgardless of the cause, resource guarding can be dangerous if not ertheless, it can cause huge problems in the human world. recognized and understood. It can cause dogs to lose their What is a resource guarder? In this case, I am referring to homes and possibly even their lives. dog who will employ threatening signals or even bite when we As a part of my normal training protocol, I teach dogs to try to take an object or move him from his comfortable location. leave and drop a variety of items. I often do trades. The dog gives A dog may stare, freeze, growl, curl his lip and/or hover over an item in an attempt to protect it. If a location is being guarded, the me an item and I either give it back or give him something better in return. This is a game most dogs enjoy. Tug and fetch can fall dog may also lunge to prevent being moved. Biting can occur in into this training category. In tug, we play, the dog gives me the either situation if the warning signals are ignored. toy and I give it back so we can play some more. How great is I could not find any definitive research about why dogs bethat? In fetch, I throw the toy. The dog brings it back so I can come resource guarders. It has been suggested there is a genetic predisposition. It has also been suggested it is a learned behavior, throw it some more. That's great too. These games can establish particularly by the biggest and strongest pups in a large litter. Re- a give and take routine that informally may reduce the desire to guard. These games can also indicate an issue. If the dog Objects guarded by dogs include food, toys, beds, does not view these activities as games and becomes too people and locations focused, aroused or intense, it gives us an opportunity to (note the “freezing� and hard stare) realize there may be a problem. If your dog guards objects from you, a program of desensitization can be introduced. As an example, my dog Rio guards bully sticks. If I come over to him when he is enjoying one, he will hunch over it and do a rattlesnake tail wag that indicates trouble. To address the issue, I started the desensitization process by entering the room, probably 15 feet away. I tossed a few high value treats and walked away. I did that until he dropped the bully stick and sat up when I entered the room, anticipating treats were coming. Then, I began slowly coming closer, always tossing teats and retreating when Rio showed any signs of uneasiness. These can vary from dog to dog, but these signs might include hunched body posture, growling, eating/chewing faster or picking the item up and increasing 24

BARKS from the Guild/September 2015

CANINE the distance from me. I closed the distance at whatever rate Rio could tolerate. As he grew less worried, I tossed the treat a few feet to his side or behind him. Rio would leave the bully stick to get the treat. I would pick up the chew and return it to him. This lowered his anxiety about me taking objects. It was a win-win situation for Rio. He got a treat and his prize was returned to him. In a rather short time, maybe two weeks, I was able to walk up to Rio, pet him, take the stick and return it to him without any defensive behaviors appearing. This is only one of the many ways we can treat resource guarding from people. I always recommend consulting with a force-free trainer when dealing with resource guarding issues. Dogs can guard things from other dogs too. To me, this is actually more problematic. I generally use management to prevent the guarding behavior. This means I give the dog a coveted item in his crate and keep him separate until he is finished. Or, if the dog guards food, he eats separately from the other dogs. In Rio’s case, I give him a chew that lasts quite a while. Since it takes him longer to finish, the other dogs can chew in peace. I monitor them to be sure they leave Rio alone until he is done. Again, there are many ways to handle this problem. My method is just one of many.

There are some good books and articles available with more detailed information, including the book Mine! by Jean Donaldson. Another is the article Resource Guarding:Treatment and Prevention by Patricia McConnell. Finally, enlisting the help of a force-free trainer is an excellent way to help you handle a dog that resource guards. n


Donaldson, J. (2013). Mine! A Practical Guide to Resource Guarding in Dogs. Wenatchee, WA: Dogwise Publishing McConnell, P. (2013). Resource Guarding: Treatment and Prevention. Retrieved from /theotherendoftheleash/resource-guarding-treatment-and -prevention Cecelia Sumner CBCC-KA CPDT-KSA PCT-A is animal behavior manager at the Humane Society of Vero Beach,, and Indian River County. She also owns Best Behavior Dog Training,, in Vero Beach, Florida and is dedicated to fostering understanding and communication between dogs and their people.

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* Order a monthly box of dog goodies for your canine friend! * Special rates available for gifts for dog friends * A portion of proceeds from each box will go to help dogs in need The promocode can be found in the Member Area of the PPG website: /benefitinformation BARKS from the Guild/September 2015



Aggression from Hearing Impairment?

Morag Heirs presents the case of Tess, the six-year-old Boston terrier whose late onset


deafness was deemed responsible for a host of behavior issues

s any reputable behavior consultant will tell you, all animals presenting with a behavior problem should first be checked by a vet. As behavior consultants, we work on veterinary referral for a number of reasons. Firstly, we want to be sure that the problem is not a symptom of an underlying medical condition and, secondly, we may need to collaborate with the veterinary professionals if medication or supplements are needed to support the behavioral therapy. Sometimes we might receive a referral where the examining veterinarian has decided that a medical issue has caused the behavior problem, but it is always worth going through our normal case taking and diagnostic processes to check out these assumptions. In the case of early or late-onset deafness where the presenting dog was not born deaf, Tess’s aggressive behavior but has become deaf due to was attributed to her ear infections, trauma or de- late onset deafness terioration in old age, we may find that a change in behavior is attributed to the deafness. In a previous article I explored some of the common myths around deaf dogs, including debunking the notion that deaf dogs are more likely to be aggressive and reactive just because they are deaf (see It’s All in the Management, BARKS from the Guild, May 2015, p. 35). In fact, an interesting paper by Farmer-Dougan, Quick, Harper et al. (2014) reported that, based on a sample of 461 dog-owners, hearing- or vision-impaired dogs were less likely to show aggression among other undesirable behaviors. With this in mind, I am going to present a case study of a relatively complicated little dog who happens to have lost most of her hearing and was referred for aggression problems. A colleague asked me to review the case notes and provide deaf dogspecific input. The summary below is necessarily abbreviated to focus on the most relevant details.

Case Study:Tess (Boston Terrier, Female, Six Years Old)

(All names and any identifying details have been altered) Tess lives in a home with two owners, and another dog of the same breed (male, slightly younger, some tension between the two dogs). The owners contacted a behavior consultant for help 26

BARKS from the Guild/September 2015

at the suggestion of their vet as it was difficult to handle or touch Tess without being snapped at or nipped. It transpired that Tess would also bark at any dogs she saw when out on walks and had attacked three dogs when off-leash. The vet suggested that since Tess had now lost most of her hearing following repeated ear infections and mites, that the deafness was the reason for the aggression. Their reasoning was that since Tess was likely to be surprised by both her owners and other dogs, she was becoming defensively aggressive. Additional information from the behavior consultant revealed that Tess was reluctant to have her harness and leash put on (resulting in nipping and snapping) and once out on a walk would refuse to take treats, becoming fixated on the other dogs and barking. The owners reported that Tess was okay to handle and social with other dogs prior to the onset of the deafness. The behavior consultant had started the owners on a straightforward plan of education in canine body language to help them respect Tess’s personal space, and using food for desensitization and counterconditioning (to both handling and harness fitting). The owners were encouraged to walk Tess at quieter times and © Can Stock Photo/SentientPhotos generally avoid other dogs for the moment. Good progress had been made by the second visit and Tess was noticeably more affectionate with the owners. So far so good. However, little Tess was described as being “very distracted” when going out for street walks, staring at the door and then either sniffing or pulling when outside. Tess refused food at all times out on walks. The working prognosis thus far was that this was due to her deafness, Tess was now hypervigilant and worried when out on walks. Since she was unwilling to take treats at all when outside the home (even on quiet walks) the behavior consultant was starting to feel rather stuck.

Time to Stop and Reconsider

As a deaf dog specialist trainer, the behavior consultant asked for my input at this stage. What would I do differently? Well, for me when a dog ap-

pears to be finding it so difficult to cope outdoors, my first port of call would be to encourage the owners to only drive to very quiet areas for Tess’s exercise and avoid all street walks. Keeping a daily diary to monitor encounters with other dogs should also help to get a clearer picture of the stressors. Working at home on handling, harness fitting and making sure the owners had some simple hand signals to use for communication would be the first priority. I would then want to explore Tess’s ability to eat different kinds of appealing food in different places – to see whether she really could not eat at all outside the home. I would want to study a video of her body language outside the home to try and get a better sense of the underlying emotion. I would also want to make sure the owners understood about uncued or zen attention, and that Tess was really comfortable playing this kind of focus game with them in the house and in the garden. We would want to then try and extend this to a very safe outdoor place based on where she seemed able to take some treats. And so it would hopefully build into a successful intervention. (Note: For reasons of space and focus I have not outlined my entire process here, and would also like to acknowledge that as individuals, each behavior consultant has his/her preferred approach.)

The Big But⁄.

I was puzzled by the assumption that the problem behaviors (snapping/nipping owners, barking and attacking other dogs, nervousness when outside the home) were all caused by Tess losing her hearing. Perhaps I am naturally suspicious, but as a trainer and behavior consultant I have learned to keep an open mind when hearing the words “she was fine before xyz.” Sometimes this is true, but as I read through the notes I could not help wondering if the little dog might have been less comfortable in all these situations even before losing her hearing. Repeated mite infestations and ear infections are painful, and it seems likely the infections were severe since they led to a total loss of hearing. The treatments would have been uncomfortable and required repeated administration and restraint by the owners. We know that pain changes behavior in general, and it seemed to me that it was very likely Tess would start to associate any hand movements near her head with future discomfort and pain. So we have an alternative explanation for the snapping and nipping when handled, and when the harness was pushed over her head. What if Tess had been slightly less pro-social around other dogs than her owners realized (and without historical video footage to go back to we are reliant on owner-memory and observation skills)? Then the addition of ear pain into somewhat stressful encounters with other dogs could have been enough to change her reactions and prompt a more pro-actively defensive response. Certainly deafness could result in some increased startle responses to a suddenly appearing dog, but it seems more likely that pain had influenced the emotional association. It was unclear from the notes to what extent Tess’s very distracted behavior outside on walks was a new development following the hearing loss, so we are left wondering how much of this might also have been present beforehand.

CANINE Conclusion

Coming to the case with a slightly different set of preconceptions meant that I saw the deafness as a much smaller part of the jigsaw puzzle for Tess. Occam’s razor* reminds us that the simplest explanation is often the best, and we should avoid overcomplicating things. In this case, it seems more likely that repeated painful experiences created an aversion to being handled, and this may also have affected Tess’s interactions with other dogs. Noting this as a potentially significant factor would mean that my approach would also now include rechecking the ears for any discomfort, and introducing sensitive bodywork such as TTouch™ around those areas. Hopefully I will be able to update you on Tess’s progress in a later article, but thoughts and comments are very welcome. n

* Occam's (or Ockham's) razor is a principle attributed to the 14th century logician and Franciscan friar William of Ockham.The principle states that: "Entities should not be multiplied unnecessarily."


Farmer-Dougan,V., Quick, A., Harper, K., Schmidt, K., & Campbell, D. (2014). Behavior of hearing or vision impaired and normal hearing and vision dogs (Canis lupus familiaris): Not the same but not that different. Journal of Veterinary Behavior, 9 (6), 316–323. doi: Heirs, M. (2015, May). It’s All in the Management. BARKS from the Guild, pp. 35-37: /bftg_may_2015_online_version_opt/35

Morag Heirs PhD MSc MA(SocSci)(Hons) PGCAP human and canine remedial massage therapist, is a companion animal behavior counselor who runs Well Connected Canine,, in York, UK. She works with deaf and blind dogs professionally, provides training and support for the Deaf Dog Network and is the behaviorist for Sheffield Animal Centre (RSPCA) and York & District RSPCA branches in the UK.


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More details at BARKS from the Guild/September 2015



Training a Blind Dog

Miki Saito says there is nothing to be afraid of when training a blind dog and shows how improving the dog’s emotional state can empower trainers


Blind dogs need to be given the time to explore new places so they feel more secure

nfortunately, even knowledgeable and experienced trainers sometimes hesitate when it comes to working with a blind dog. It is as if they consider the dog’s blindness an obstacle that cannot be overcome. Since blindness cannot be changed, this mindset can lead trainers to believe that these dogs cannot be trained but this is, of course, untrue. The dog’s blindness does not inhibit training. His emotional state, however, may be preventing him from having a positive learning experience. As explained by Dr. Jesus Rosales-Ruiz at the Clicker Expo in Portland, Oregon in January 2015, if the dog is feeling fear, he is in “escape contingency” because he is facing an unpleasant or harmful event. If he is feeling anxiety, he is in “avoidance contingency” because he is anticipating that an unpleasant or harmful event is going to happen. If the dog is feeling frustration, he is in "negative punishment” or “extinction contingency” because what he wants is unavailable. Another possibility is that he has not learned how to cope with the aversive state. Dr. Rosales-Ruiz states that emotions arise from contingencies; as such, the blind dog’s environment produces his fear, anxiety and frustration. As trainers we all know that we can successfully modify a dog’s behavior by changing the environment appropriately. In the same way, we can change a dog's emotional state. Environmental change plus using the knowledge and skills of positive reinforcement can eliminate fear and anxiety, the enemies of fun training. To help a dog who is overwhelmed you need to provide a safe environment, as well as time and positive reinforcement. This is true regardless of whether or not the dog can see.You just need to exercise a little more ingenuity if the dog is blind.

Safe Environment

Before you invite a blind dog and her owner to your training facility, you should literally crawl around on the floor so you can observe it from the same height as a dog’s eyes. Look for sharp objects and corners that could injure the blind dog’s eye, face or 28

BARKS from the Guild/September 2015

The face and muzzle are important tools that allow a blind dog to measure the height of a step or define the shape of an object

body. If you see any, remove them or cover them with cushioned material such as a yoga mat. It would be best to put your training equipment in one place and put ring gates or visual barriers around it in order to prevent a blind dog’s access. If you invite a blind dog to your yard or outdoor area, check first for holes and plants. Stepping in a hole can cause serious injury. Bumping an eye into a plant can injure the cornea which causes severe pain. Blind dogs are prone to bumping their faces and heads on the legs of tables and chairs. Tables and chairs must be put away or their legs covered with cushioned material. Chair covers for weddings, which cover a chair entirely down to the floor, can make it easier for a blind dog to be aware of the chair and prevent her from getting injured by the chair’s legs. It is important to remember the three kinds of places where blind dogs are prone to feel scared and confused: crowded, narrow spaces; large, high-ceilinged spaces; and novel spaces. If a blind dog is in a narrow space surrounded by lots of objects, she can feel like she will get stuck. To help her walk through a narrow space safely, have her come between the handler’s legs and have them then walk together. As you can see in this video, I use a verbal cue for moving forward together. After that I replace it with a tactile cue of my leg movement, so that she was walking while I was walking and when I stopped, she stopped. Later on I added another tactile cue which involved a different leg movement for u-turns. Consequently, there is no longer a need to say anything except when I invite her to position herself between my legs. This cue is very useful when I need to control my dog’s movements and my hands are full. It is also useful when she is confused and scared in large or novel places. I can help her feel safe enough to walk using this method. The second type of place that a blind dog may need your help is a large space with a high ceiling, like a gym or dance hall. Echoes occur in this type of space. The echoing of a person’s footstep and voice or a dog’s barking makes it difficult for a blind

dog to determine relative distance. She will struggle to figure out the distance to the other dog or person, as well as the number of dogs and people. This can make her anxious. The third is a novel place. A blind dog has a map of a familiar place in her head. She can follow this map, which makes her feel secure and competent. But she does not have a map of a novel place. This makes her feel anxious. She does not know the size and shape of the place, where she should be more careful or where her safe place is. When a blind dog comes to a novel place, she needs to have the time and opportunity to safely explore, in order to create the new map in her head. To help a blind dog truly know the new place and situation, she needs to be given enough time and freedom to "see" with her nose and ears, check around with her muzzle or face, and decide for herself whether she wants to explore or not. A blind dog must be given the opportunity to explore your facility before each of her lessons. As I wrote in my previous article, Empowerment for a Better Quality of Life (BARKS from the Guild, May 2015, pp. 32-34), a blind dog’s muzzle and face are important tools for understanding the shape of an object and for measuring the height of a step. To help the blind dog create the map of your facility, you need to maintain the same conditions. This means always putting equipment in the same place and not moving furniture. Some blind dogs feel safer when on a leash, especially in an unfamiliar place. Whether it is better to have a blind dog on or off leash when letting her explore a new place depends on the dog. A blind dog can know in which direction she should go, as well as what distance she should be from her handler, by a tiny change in the tension of the leash. I taught my blind dog Nono micro-leash signals and used them to help her feel comfortable walking. I have found the following method is best to help a blind dog get up a step safely and comfortably. I walk with my dog on a loose leash. When we reach a step, I slow down and stop in front of the step and say, “there’s a step” as a notice cue. This makes her aware of the step so that she does not bump into it and gives her the opportunity to measure its height with her muzzle. For details about a notice cue, which lets a blind dog know what is going to happen, see my handout Blind Dog Notice Cue.

Positive Reinforcement

A blind dog will learn by experience that she can get what she wants by using senses and abilities other than eyesight. The more frequently good outcomes occur while she is using her remaining senses and abilities, the more she will build skills to use them. This develops her confidence. Those positive experiences will help her adapt to her condition and cope with a difficult situation. As Dr. Rosales-Ruiz says, "If you are feeling happy, you are in a positive reinforcement contingency." Positive reinforcement affects not only behaviors and skills but also emotional states. Fortunately, you have as many chances to reinforce the dog’s behaviors as the amount of kibble in the dog’s meals.You can provide positive reinforcement by changing the way you give the meal: subtract some of the daily meal from the food bowl and use it to fill food puzzles such as a Kong, or to play nose games and do training sessions. You can sprinkle kibble on the floor of your facility and let


the dog search and eat it on a loose leash or off leash. The dog’s owner can put pieces of kibble one-by-one on the floor while walking backwards, encouraging the dog to follow while eating the kibble. If the dog manages these games easily, you can make it a little more difficult.You can cover some sprinkled kibble with a paper cup or wrap some kibble up with hand towels or handkerchiefs and put it around the room. Next, you can start to teach simple behaviors which are prerequisites for desired behaviors or useful tricks for daily life: turning the head or face to the direction of a hand-clap or the dog’s name being called; turning in response to being touched with the finger tips; hand targeting; chin rest; and the dog going between his owner’s legs (see page 28).You can also teach a spin starting with the behavior of looking at the direction of the touch and then shape the turn. In addition to all of this, it is helpful to teach various sound signals to let a blind dog know where he should go. My aim is to show owners and trainers that teaching a blind dog is similar to teaching a fearful, sighted dog. Both types of dogs need help to improve their emotional states. This approach will help dog trainers feel empowered to confidently work with a Positive reinforcement affects emotional states, as well as behavior blind dog if they are asked. n


Rosales-Ruiz, Jesús. The Quadrant Quandary: Clarity and Perspective on an Icon. Presentation at Clicker Expo, Portland, Oregon, January 23-25, 2015. Saito, M. (May 2015). Empowerment for a Better Quality of Life. BARKS from the Guild, pp.32-34: professionalguild/docs/bftg_may_2015_online_version_opt/32 Handout Blind Dog Notice Cue: /resource#notice-cue Video Blind Dog Walking with Trainer: /watch?v=-LKSkMp8rTI Video Chin Rest: =zYXAUJHonQ8 Video Hand Targeting: =Rj70C3lBDE4 Video Shaping the Turn: =LO2N3uXB0bk Video Teaching Sound Signals: =1g2XzZVer8o Miki Saito CPDT-KA is a dog training and behavior consultant at Mark and Reward dog training and education,, in Yokohama, Japan. She is considered an expert in training blind and visually-impaired dogs. Her dog Nono is the first and only blind dog who has passed the D.I.N.G.O. Master Handler test. She shares ideas for helping and training blind dogs on her website Blind Dog Training,, and her YouTube channel,

BARKS from the Guild/September 2015



Compulsive Eating

Maureen Tay looks into the motivations for unusual eating patterns in dogs and highlights


possible solutions and management options

lso known as compulsive eating disorder, compulsive eating is a disorder where a dog tends to eat everything - from food items to non-food items. The specific practice of eating nonfood, non-nutritive substances, such as wool or paper, is known as pica. Stool eating (coprophagia) can also be categorized under pica.

digestive disorders or parasitic infections, can also cause the problem.

Behavioral Issues: Boredom is often the biggest factor in the behavioral aspect of compulsive behaviors.Your dog may have been left alone all day and managed to find joy in chewing and eating the rug or the newspaper. Or he may have learned that going outdoors gives him the opportunity to eat a variety of items which he has started to find reinforcing.

Common among Puppies

© Can Stock Photo/Voyagerix

Puppies are curious animals. They eat just about anything they can find, including things that are inedible. Puppies love to investigate their surroundings. An excellent way to do this is for a puppy to put unfamiliar items into his mouth. Puppies will chew and quite possibly swallow anything, purely out of curiosity. At six months of age (this differs from dog to dog), most puppies will grow out of this investigative behavior phase. Others may stop because of discouragement from the owners. Some dogs, however, may continue to consume inedible items after the puppy investigation stage. This may be the first sign of a compulsive eating disorder, or pica.

Recognizing the Symptoms

© Can Stock Photo/adogslifephoto

You will notice that your dog seems intensely excited to seek out and eat inedible objects, such as rocks, plastic bags, wood, clothing, leaves, paper and stool. If the dog swallows things that are not really food, you will need to help him overcome the problem. Compulsive behaviors are unlikely to go away without intervention. Chew toys are an ideal way to keep a dog occupied and keep his mind off eating less appropriate fare


Possible Causes

There are two main reasons why adult dogs eat items that are non-consumable. It is either a physical issue or a behavioral one. Physical Issues: These may include a lack of nutrients in the dog’s diet. Illness, such as

BARKS from the Guild/September 2015

Possible Solutions:

Wool and fabric are some of the inedible items favored by dogs with pica

Medical Issues Always consult a veterinarian to rule out medical issues. A digestive disorder or parasitic infection may be at the root of the behavior.

Mental Stimulation Once medical causes or nutritional deficiencies are ruled out, stock up on chew and feeding toys such as Kongs, Nylabones and antler chews to keep your dog occupied. Toys made of a harder material are not easy to disintegrate and are in turn less likely to be swallowed. Engage in fun activities such as fetching, tugging and even agility. These activities help to burn off that excess energy, engage the brain and decrease boredom. It goes without saying there is no place for punishing the dog for the compulsive behavior. Here, as in any other case, this risks making the problem worse. Another strategy is using a kibble/treat dispenser. This also helps with mental stimulation and it gives the dog a job to do. If the dog is mentally tired, he will be much less emotionally reactive and will no longer have all that energy to look for something to do, or even feel the need to. A bored dog will most likely be up to no good. There are many brands of treat dispenser available. Some even have a wifi function so you can control the feeding even if you are not at home. Training Teach your dog to “leave it,” as well as a reliable "recall." This is so that, if the dog is off leash and manages to find an object to chew on, you can easily call him to you and away from the item. Should you be walking your dog and you spot him eyeing some tasty leaves or rocks, you can also use the "leave it" cue. You can also teach your dog the "watch" cue so he will learn to check in with you from time to time on


walks. If your dog focuses on you, he will not be able to stick his nose to the ground the whole time. It is either this or that. Substitute the undesirable behavior with an alternative, incompatible, preferably more attractive, behavior. I also like to train dogs to love wearing a basket muzzle. If you teach your dog to positively accept wearing one, it can be a very effective and humane tool for managing problems, especially if you have a dog who loves picking up anything he encounters during a walk. A basket muzzle will still allow the dog to pant to regulate his body temperature and to drink water. Deterrents There are coprophagia deterrent products on the market that can stop your dog from eating the stool by making it taste bad. However, I have personally experienced some dogs that have learned to accept the taste of the deterrents and they continued to eat inappropriate things. The best solution for stool eating is to remove the waste as soon as your dog defecates. The same applies if he likes to raid the cat litter tray. I do not recommend deterrents. As a last resort, speak to your veterinarian about the possibility of using medication to decrease the dog’s levels of stress and/or compulsive behavior. Management My best advice is to manage the behavior. Other than modifying the dog’s behavior by keeping him occupied, you can also modify your own. For example, if you are not around to supervise your dog, keeping him confined in one room or crated can prevent him from eating things he is not supposed to. By doing this, you set

© Can Stock Photo/nenovbrothers

© Can Stock Photo/photo2life

Puppies will often chew almost anything, but usually grow out of the behavior

Compulsive eating can be life threatening and result in expensive vet visits

him up for success, which is always the goal in training. Just remember to give him plenty of chew toys so he will not be left bored in his confined area. Also, instead of putting letters or important documents on the table where your dog can access them, put them elsewhere. Instead of leaving shoes on the floor, keep them in a cupboard or shoe rack.You get the idea. Prevention is key. If you can prevent and manage the behavior, and at the same time give your dog something else to do, you are actually slowly removing the unwanted behavior. It is well worth it. Compulsive eating and pica can be life threatening, not to mention expensive. There are countless vet reports regarding dogs who have had to undergo surgery to remove rocks, safety pins and the like. It goes without saying that this is best avoided, at all costs. n Maureen Tay is the chief trainer at KasPup UniFURsity, and a PPG Singpore steering committee member. She is a licensed Family Paws Parent Education educator, a certified canine first responder and an accredited dog trainer recognized by the Panel for Accreditation of Dog Trainers, Singapore. She is currently studying to be a service dog trainer at the International College of Canine Studies. WITH

DOG BITES STEV E BROOKS A hybrid Dog Training/Cookbook for foodies & dog lovers! Teach K9 behavior with Steve’s Positive Training Tactics! Use food correctly to train with dog bites (the good kind!) Modify favorite human meals to safely share with your pup!

Available at, Barnes&, BARKS from the Guild/September 2015



The Aftermath of “Boot Camp”

Amanda Ballard relates the tale of Kobe, the terrier cross who displayed intense anxiety


following an aversive training “boot camp,” and his journey back to emotional stability

obe is an 18-month-old terrier cross, who is loved madly by his person, Lizzie. My private consultation session with them is the only one in 10 years that has moved me to tears, right there in front of the owner. It absolutely broke my heart to witness a dog displaying visible signs of anxiety, triggered by hearing very basic and commonly used verbal cues. Sadly, it would not be the last time I would witness this. There is no doubt about it: there are side-effects associated with aversive training methods. I do not believe, however, that owners who hire such trainers ever truly intend to harm their dogs. I feel it is more a matter of education. Lizzie was only doing what a professional trainer had asked her to do. I thought long and hard about how to share Kobe’s case for this article. Would I use technical terms and jargon, share my training plan, share segments of Kobe’s preconsultation form and so on? In the end I felt that Lizzie could tell Kobe was a changed dog when he came Kobe’s story back from boot best, and that camp, complete with prong collar readers could and fearful behavior benefit from learning about her perspective. The following are Lizzie’s words, based on her experience with Kobe. “I have always loved dogs. When I was a little girl we had a little terrier and since then my heart has always had an especially soft spot for little dogs. After college I settled into a career and bought a house but I still felt a void in my life. I had no doubt that what I was missing was a furry friend of my own. “I first saw Kobe when I was browsing a local shelter pet website and I immediately wanted to know all about him. I went to meet him and brought him home the same day because the shelter was about 45 miles from where I lived. I knew I wanted him and did not want to make two trips, a decision I soon thought might have been rushed and impulsive. Kobe was a hyper, rambunctious terror who barreled his way into my once very organized lifestyle. I was terrified but loved him anyway. My 32

BARKS from the Guild/September 2015

parents had never put our dog in a crate but Kobe had quickly destroyed my couch and a few books off my bookshelf so, within his first week, I went out and got one. I also made an appointment with a groomer friend to get him all pampered and clean. I don’t think he had ever had a haircut. He was very unkempt. “The groomer was part of a veterinary clinic, which also offered day care. When I picked Kobe up they mentioned that he would benefit from some type of obedience training. I completely agreed and was relieved to know there was hope for him to be a “good boy.” I did not do my homework and instead forked out a few hundred dollars and packed a bag with some of the new toys we had picked out. He would be gone for a week. I was assured that, after boot camp, I would be able to “enjoy my dog.” “When I picked him up from boot camp, I watched from a window a demonstration of what he had learned. He responded to all the cues he was given but he seemed different. I cannot describe it. He was not the happy crazy guy I had dropped off. His ears were back and his high tail was tucked After his experience with aversive training between his legs. It methods, certain words made Kobe anxious so his owner and trainer came up with a was like a teenager new set of training cues for him returning from boot camp or military school. He had changed. “When I was asked to come outside, he was so happy to see me. I noticed he had a shiny collar on instead of the cute little one he had been wearing when I dropped him off. It had sharp metal prongs inside, which when pulled, would dig into his neck. I was very concerned that it was hurting him because he was such a little guy, but I was assured by the trainer that it was very comparable to being picked up by his mother’s teeth. I was given brief instruction on administering “corrections” and was told to not take the collar off for at least eight months. “The following weeks were rough. I was taught a new way of walking him and it involved yanking the leash anytime he didn’t “heel.” Whenever he acted like a puppy and wanted to stop and sniff, I was supposed to yank his leash and get him to walk at my behest.

“The only time I saw him happy was at the dog park when the leash was off and he could run free. His interactions with other dogs concerned me as they would snip at him when he approached them. I posted on social media about this concern and asked my friends if anyone would be willing to bring their dog so he could have some friends. That is when our life changed. A friend gave me Amanda Kobe’s owner had to work hard to Ballard’s contact gain back the trust information and of her pup after his frightening boot said she used a camp experience different way to work with dogs. I just could not bear giving him “corrections� any longer. It was not in my nature. When I finally made the call, such a good feeling came over me. The things that she said were so positive. She did not have this attitude of “I’m the boss and the dog needs to know his place.� I loved my dog and thought of him as an equal. I did not want him to be scared of me. I wanted him to be happy and have a good, comfortable life. “The first session with Ballard was at our house. I was so skeptical that any of the force-free methods were going to work because of Kobe’s rambunctious nature. Ballard proved though, through Kobe’s behavior, that she had the answers we were looking for. When he barked at her and wanted to jump up, she ignored him, waited for him to calm down and then gave him treats. He quickly stopped jumping and barking and I became a believer. I told Ballard that Kobe knew some cues and she asked us to demonstrate them. Kobe became noticeably anxious when I gave him the “commands� that the other trainer had told me to use. He paced, began to spin, barked and looked for the closest object to bite. He completely lost focus on what we were doing. That was the moment when everything really hit me. I had unknowingly put him through a trauma he should never have endured. We talked about a plan to help Kobe with tears in our eyes. That night I tossed the prong collar into the garbage. “The following weeks were filled with rewards instead of “corrections� and I watched my little buddy get better and better, even when doing very complex exercises. I am convinced he gained in confidence during this time. He could do all the tricks and was always so happy to get rewarded. We grew so much


closer, working on these kinds of homework assignments, and were proud to show them off to Ballard when she checked in on our progress. The best part was that we successfully taught him to respond to a new vocabulary that did not cause him any anxiety. Sit became “park,� lay down became “plop,� and I also learned a new way to help with his barking. “I feel very strongly that force-free methods are the only way to train and bond with a dog. So much time was spent undoing the damage that had been done in that one week. So much effort was put into earning back the trust of my new pup. I had hurt him unintentionally, as I thought I was doing the right thing. I only wish I would have known sooner that there were more positive methods out there. “Kobe and I have never been happier than we are right now. I finally am able to “enjoy my dog,� as they had ironically termed it, but only because I know he is truly happy and our lives are filled with mutual rewards.� n Amanda Ballard is the owner of Halo Dog Animal Behavior Consulting, Inc.,, and has been working professionally for over a decade with pet parents on animal behavior modification and training, in veterinary clinics, with animal control organizations, and with rescue groups. She is owned by five “Halo dogs� who earn their kibble by helping out with dog-dog reactivity cases.


Call us today at 1-800-962-4611 or visit us online at at www.#VTJOFTT * www. #VTJOFTT *

BARKS from the Guild/September 2015



Great Expectations

Based on her current experiences with red heeler puppy, Gertie Mae, Gail Radtke details


how to go about training a therapy dog while admitting that, ultimately, it is up to the dog

expect great things for Gertie Mae, my six-month-old Australian cattle dog, as she follows in the footsteps of my late red heeler, Tawny Mae (see The Art of Teamwork, BARKS from the Guild, July 2015, p.41-43) to become a therapy dog with the St. John Ambulance Therapy Dog Program. However, part of me is starting to face the reality that my expectations for Gertie Mae and her expectations for herself might be worlds apart. Gertie Mae is a true heeler in all her herding glory. If it moves, it must be chased! Herding and therapy dog work do not really go together. As such, I have my work cut out for me if I am to stick to my plan to train Gertie Mae to be a therapy dog and evaluate her when she is two years old, which is the current required age for the St. John Therapy Dog program. I started training with Gertie Mae from minute I brought her home at the age of 11 weeks. As the program coordinator for the St. John Ambulance Therapy dog prison visitation program with Alouette Correctional Centre for Women in Maple Ridge, British Columbia (see Endless Possibilities, BARKS from the Guild, May 2015, p.43-45), I had the necessary access to take Gertie Mae into the prison with me. This gave me the opportunity to expose her to a unique new environment and meet a diverse population of people in a controlled setting. Bearing in mind the principles of classical conditioning, I made sure to pair each experience with a high value food treat or toy to make it a positive experience. Much of Gertie Mae’s future therapy dog work will be in the prison program so her experience of this environment at such a young age will be invaluable for her future evaluation. When I am training with Gertie Mae I spend a great deal of time teaching her how to resist moving objects. For her breed characteristics and instinct this can be difficult of course but I do not believe it to be impossible. Gertie Mae is wonderful with adults, but I have discovered that she has difficulty relaxing with

Gertie Mae is a heeler to the core.Time will tell if she will be suited to therapy dog work

younger children who move quickly and make loud noises because she wants to break out into chasing games. Impulse control training at her young age is also a vital component. Learning to not go with her instinct and instead make different choices takes time, and all interactions need to be planned out so certain behaviors cannot be rehearsed and strengthened. Using the principles of positive reinforcement I can reward calm behavior and whenever she chooses to disregard moving objects. I am fortunate to have my own training facility in Mission, British Columbia where I can set up specific training scenarios in a controlled environment. Play and physical interaction is highly rewarding for Gertie Mae so I use toys and play to reinforce behaviors with her; food is not always deemed to be of the highest value with a

Gertie Mae (left and right) and her training partner, Phaedra (center), undergo exposure training to wheelchairs, walkers and umbrellas


BARKS from the Guild/September 2015

playful puppy like this with cattle dog energy. In one of the recent puppy classes at my training centre I preplanned a number of scenarios in which I enlisted the help of several friends to attend the class for puppy handling exercises and exposure to groups of people. One of the exercises I find helpful for the pups - including mine - is to have the helpers form a line sitting on their knees facing sideways. The helpers do not make direct eye contact with the pups but instead hold out their hands palm upwards with a treat in it. The handler walks the pup down the line of people and the pup then eats each treat out of the outreached palms. Movement can be increased as the pups make a successful pass by. This is an excellent exercise for shy pups (or adult dogs for that matter) to associate people with good things. I find another good set up for puppy class is to enlist a group of helpers to come in and handle the pups. The helpers have high value treats with them and pass the pups between them, handling and touching them each time and giving them treats. These exercises have been very successful in helping Gertie Mae create positive associations with people. I have also been exposing her to equipment she may come into contact with as a therapy dog. I recommend this to anyone who would like their dog to become involved in therapy work. It is essential for a therapy dog to be comfortable around wheelchairs, walkers and physical assistance equipment, not only in their stationary positions but also when they are moving. As such, setting up the training experience is important. Gertie Mae is fine with many objects when they are stationary but as soon as they start to move she wants to herd and nip at their “heels� in true heeler fashion. To train her, I start with the objects in a stationary position and gradually move closer to them each time we pass, with treats placed near the object. I then move the treat closer to the stationary object. As her comfort level increases and she continues to display no reaction to the object, I move the treat onto the object for her to retrieve. Once I have repeated this exercise I add in a person with the object and begin again with the systematic approach. This time the end goal is the person and object moving past and Gertie Mae choosing to engage with me instead of herding them. I cannot say we are completely there yet but she is definitely coming along. I am fortunate to have a friend and her shy six-month-old female Mastiff, Phaedra, working with us; together we can create the training setups needed. Ultimately it is Gertie Mae who will have the final say on whether she becomes a therapy dog or not. I do not want to change who she is. It could well be that Gertie Mae has a few things to teach me along the way as well, just as each of my


dogs, past and present, has done. Maybe she will want to be out herding more than she wants to do therapy work. If you would like to become involved in therapy work with your dog, please check the references for the different types of evaluations and testing done by organizations in North America. And finally, bear in mind that the most important thing of all is getting out there and enjoying the company of your dog, no matter what his job is. n


Radtke, G. (2015, July). The Art of Teamwork. BARKS from the Guild, pp. 41-43: _july_2015_online_version_opt_1/41?e=4452575/13892106 Radtke, G. (2015, May). Endless Possibilities. BARKS from the Guild, pp. 43-45: /docs/bftg_may_2015_online_version_opt/43?e=0


International Association of American Kennel Club: www.akc .org/dog-owners/training/canine-good-citizen/training-testing Assistance Dog Partners: Canadian Kennel Club: -Trials/Event-Rules-Regulations/Canine-Good-Neighbour -Program-Evaluator-Guide Delta Society: -testing-procedures.html Pet Partners: Therapy Dogs International: /TestingBrochure.pdf St. John Ambulance Become a Therapy Dog Volunteer: Dog Services/Become-A-Therapy-Dog-Volunteer.aspx

Gail Radtke CPDT is a retired correctional supervisor and former instructor of the Justice Institute of British Columbia, Canada. Gail has combined her passion for dogs and teaching and is a Family Paws Parent Education presenter and has recently completed her DipCBST. She is the owner and operator of Cedar Valley K9,, in Mission, British Columbia.

BARKS from the Guild/September 2015



The Importance of Learning to Read Dog

Louise Stapleton-Frappell reports from the 2015 National Dog Bite Prevention and Behaviour


Conference in the UK. The underlying message? Learn to understand canine communication

ome of the world’s top canine behavior experts and educators gathered at the University of Lincoln, England in June for the second National Dog Bite Prevention and Behaviour Conference, a national event spearheaded by PPG Special Council member,Victoria Stilwell, that is dedicated to finding practical and workable solutions to the universal problem of dog bites through education and heightened awareness, as well as providing the most up-to-date information on canine behavior. The first lecture, Not All Dogs That Bite Are Scared! Insights into the Emotional Basis of Aggressive Behavior in Dogs, was given by Daniel Mills, professor of veterinary behavioral medicine at the University of Lincoln. Prof. Mills spoke about the lack of agreement amongst pet professionals on the definition of aggression and pointed out that we should refer to aggressive behavior, rather than simplistically labeling a dog “aggressive.” A greater emphasis on behavior such as this should lead us to consider whether a stimulus is merely frustrating, or whether a dog is genuinely fearful. As in all cases, the emotional state and motivation behind the behavior is key. Even when a dog has bitten, we cannot simply classify him as dangerous, according to Prof. Mills. The bite could be accidental or, as is common, due to frustration, fear or pain. As we all know, punishment can cause frustration and make a dog to react to certain stimuli when the same emotional circuit is triggered, even in what would appear to be an unrelated event. Prof. Mills also stated that one cannot assume a dog who resource guards is aggressive, pointing out that aggressive displays are often just a form of communication. A dog who has learned that turning his lip up does not result in his being left in peace may learn to snarl instead. Or perhaps, having been punished, he has learned that warning signs are not allowed, resulting in a dog that bites without warning. Given that not all dogs bite because they are scared, we, as pet professionals, need to be systematic and objective in our analysis, to carefully evaluate aggressive incidents and use a systematic approach to understanding a dog’s emotions. We also need legislation that makes sense, that does not imply that certain breeds are dangerous and others are not. The most important way to prevent dog bites is for people to learn to read a dog, according to Prof. Mills, who reminded us that most people have a maximum of 10 minutes a day to devote to training so we need to keep our advice simple and precise. I asked him what it would be if he had to give just one piece of advice about dog bite prevention. His answer: “Learn to read dog.” Kerstin Meints, professor of developmental psychology from the University of Lincoln, next presented on Children and Dogs – Risks and Interventions. Prof. Meints works on applied research in human-animal interaction, especially dog bite prevention. She is conducting a National Institutes of Health research project on 36

BARKS from the Guild/September 2015

Dogs generally give one or more warning signals before they feel compelled to bite

© Can Stock Photo Inc./fastfun23

teaching dog signaling to children, and is also part of the international project on dog bite prevention, The Blue Dog Project. Prof. Meints pointed out that 86 percent of dog bites are triggered by interactions initiated by a child when there is no active supervision by an adult, and that children younger than nine years old are more likely to be bitten by a dog. She said there is no relationship between a dog’s breed or size and the facial injuries suffered by children who have been bitten, which could suggest that, in some cases, the dog was lying down when biting. The child’s age was also found to be a significant factor. (Khan et al., 2003; Schalamon, 2006; Hon et al., 2007). The Blue Dog project was launched in the UK in 2006 as a means of preventing dog bites and is now used in 21 countries. It teaches children and adults how to correctly interpret a dog’s body signals and facial expressions so as to avoid unsafe situations. Prof. Meints stated that the most important advice she could give parents was to never leave young children and dogs together without supervision. She further stated that children should be taught about canine body language and use that to behave safely and respectfully. Todd Hogue, professor of forensic psychology at the University of Lincoln, specializes in risk, sexual offenders, and personality disorders and drew many interesting comparisons between his specialties and dog bites in his lecture, A Forensic Psychology Approach to Managing Dog Bite Risk. Forensic psychology attempts to predict behavior and many parallels can be drawn between human-human aggression and human-directed aggression in dogs. The contexts in which they

is canine communication. Another speaker was certified pet dog trainer, Nando Brown, who gave an informative presentation, Things to Do with Your Grumpy Dog. Brown spoke about six levels of dog bites, from level one when a dog snaps, to a level six bite which kills. Whether we classify a dog as grumpy or dangerous depends on how often he bites and how much damage, if any, is inflicted. The audience was taken through the protocols that are used to change both the emotions and behavior of a “grumpy” dog. Brown gathered members of the audience on stage to give entertaining, yet informative, demonstrations of conditioning, desensitization, and mutually-exclusive behaviors. He stressed the importance of making sure the dog remained under threshold. He also emphasized that we, as pet professionals, should make good use of tricks, scent work and other activities in which we can use passive desensitization and counterconditioning. Brown also spoke about how learned helplessness is so often misunderstood and misinterpreted as the dog “behaving.” He stressed that we need to empower owners and not blame them as it can be very scary to have a reactive dog. Again, he stated that understanding the dog is paramount in all we do with them. Next up was veterinary surgeon and clinical animal behaviorist, Kendal Shepherd. Shepherd accepts both dangerous dog and animal welfare cases. Her book, The Canine Commandments, contains an illustrated version of the Canine Ladder of Aggression. Shepherd gave an informative presentation entitled, Human and Canine Welfare Implications of Dog Bite Incidents - a Proposal for a 'One Health' Approach to Prevention. She discussed the UK’s Dangerous Dogs Act and its shortcomings, such as the violent way in which dogs can be seized and the substandard way in which they are housed. She stressed that the whole process seems to have very little to do with dog bite prevention. Since 2009, Shepherd has assessed 126 dogs who had been classed as “pit bull type.” She, however, only classed eight of them as such. Out of these 126 dogs only 16 had been involved in incidents and, of these 16, many of the incidents had only taken place during the violent seizure of the dogs. In light of the fact that the severity of dog bites varies so greatly, Shepherd stated that the phrase “dog attacks” should be replaced with the phrase “dog bite incidents.” She said there was very little evidence of dogs being trained to bite and that bites often occurred during episodes of human conflict and the involvement of welfare concerns. She also stated that we need to examine the evidence behind each bite by conducting a behavioral assessment of both the victim and In England, all dogs the dog, studying the medical remust wear ports, the social factors and the a collar and tag context of a dog bite incident. when out Mismanagement of dogs and posin public sible abuse or neglect should also be considered. Shepherd ended her presentation by stating that supposedly ‘dan-

© Can Stock Photo Inc./Colecanstock

occur are often very similar. Forensic psychology delves into the behaviour and asks: Why this behavior? Why this dog? Why this person? Was/is it predictable? Was/is it preventable? Was/is it understandable? Was/is it changeable? What are the risk factors and what is the future risk? There are many other issues to consider: the mental state of the perpetrator, the victim (what they were doing/how they were interacting), the situation and the context. We need to examine neuro/biological influences and the history/owner/environment. Prof. Hogue pointed out that neglect can sometimes be worse than abuse. We need to examine the current situation and what are the future risk factors. Was the behavior actual, attempted or just threatened? Is the individual displaying a layering of aggressive behaviors/a full range of aggressive behaviors or just certain, contextual behaviors? The definition of the behavior will drive the risk assessment. We also need to examine what the dog did not do. Prof. Hogue stated that legislation aimed at specific breeds is dangerous because it misrepresents those breeds, is not evidence based and does not increase safety. He emphasized the need to develop a relevant evidence base in an effort to predict future behavior. He also stated that all aspects need to be studied in each case, including temperament, neglect as a puppy, age of first bite, rehoming, failure at previous behavior training, lack of training, method of training, and the breed of dog. Next up was David Ryan, a certified clinical animal behaviorist. In his lecture, The Road to a Bite and How All Dog Owners Can Avoid Walking Their Dog Down It, Ryan spoke passionately about what he called “pet-ication,” i.e. the change in the lifestyle of dogs from workers to pets, and how this decrease in activity can be detrimental. He stated that breeds such as the dachshund, Jack Russell terrier and Chihuahua were much higher on the list of canine aggressive behavior than, for example, the much-maligned pit bull terrier, as stated in Breed differences in canine aggression (Duffy, Hsu and Serpell, 2008). In fact, 19 breeds were ahead of the pit bull when considering the likelihood of them biting a stranger, while 27 breeds were listed as more likely to bite their owner. Ryan did, however, acknowledge that not all bites are equal. He also spoke of the importance of people selecting a dog that was more likely to fit in with their lifestyle and the importance of appropriate and continuous socialization, understanding canine communication, and reinforcing desired behaviors. Since we control our dogs’ food, their activities and even their interactions we have many reinforcers at our disposal and should make good use of them. According to Ryan, owning a dog is a privilege, and privileges come with responsibilities. Ryan also stressed the importance of never leaving a child alone with a dog and spoke of the risk factors that could contribute to the incidence of a dog bite: the age of the child, a new dog in the house, the socioeconomic group to which the family belongs, the child’s actions, the dog’s social awareness, or an unfamiliar child visiting the house. There were three behaviors in particular that Ryan thought all dogs should be taught: pay attention/come when called, sit, and relax on a bed. (The bed can be taken with you, so your dog will always have somewhere he can safely relax.) But he agreed with Prof. Mills that the most important thing for people to learn


BARKS from the Guild/September 2015



gerous dogs’ are not responsible for the majority of incidents. Louise Swindlehurst, Canine Massage Guild vice chair, then presented a different side of the coin in her informative lecture, 10 Ways to Recognize when Muscular Pain May Lead to Aggression. Swindlehurst described the top 10 ways in which dogs show pain: changes in gait; posture; the position they sit or lie down in; a reluctance to be groomed; changes in the coat; skin flinching; performance issues; changes in behavior; increased anxiety; and changes in activities of daily living. Pain can make a dog irritable, so this should also be taken into consideration when dealing with an occurrence of aggressive behavior. Another speaker, Trevor Cooper, solicitor and dog law specialist, gave a lecture on New Developments in Dog Law. As of April 6, 2016 all dogs in England will have to be microchipped before they are eight weeks old, unless a veterinarian certifies that it would be contrary to their health. (Wales and Scotland will require this shortly as well.) Microchip details will be registered on a compliant database in the name of the keeper. If a breeder sells a puppy before the age of eight weeks, said puppy will need to be registered in the name of the breeder and it will be the new owner’s responsibility to contact the database and update the details. Cooper also informed the audience of the obligation under the Control of Dogs Order 1992 which states that all dogs must wear a collar and identification tag in public. The Anti-Social Behaviour Crime and Policing Act 2014 enables local councils to enforce local legislation requiring owners to keep their dogs on a lead, pick up feces, exclude dogs from certain areas, and limit the number of dogs walked at one time. This act is due to be replaced by the Public Spaces Protection Orders, enabling local councils to introduce any legislation they consider appropriate. Cooper stated that any dog is capable of biting, and that people should not assume that any particular dog is going to be dangerous just because of the way he looks. The conference drew to a close with Victoria Stilwell’s presentation, Humane Training for High Drive/ Working Dogs, in which she discussed some of the misconceptions about positive reinforcement training, for example that high drive working dogs and large dogs cannot be trained this way. Stilwell pointed out that positive training methods are often poorly understood by those who advocate punitive training methods. Reward-based methods actually encourage learning and lead to more confident, emotionally balanced dogs. At present, many military and law enforcement units in the US train using aversives but, according to Stilwell, these should not be needed if handlers are skilled, the dog and handler work as a team, and dogs are trained to cope and operate well in stressful situations. In the UK police dogs are trained using toy and tug rewards. Choke, prong and shock collars are not allowed. Although “corrections” are used, the main emphasis is placed on teaching reliable techniques. As any forcefree trainer already knows, when warning signals are punished, it does not change the underlying emotions. Instead, we risk teaching the dog not to give any warning signals before aggressing. In addition, relationships are damaged, learning is often suppressed and aggressive behavior can be exacerbated. Stilwell also clarified that drive can refer to chase, prey, hunt, food, toys and sex, and that it refers to the animal’s response, in38

BARKS from the Guild/September 2015

terest and motivation to chase something. Drive is an unknown and variable internal state. It is motivation, enthusiasm, energy, accelerated reactions and heightened awareness. It is also highly reinforcing. Recently, Stilwell has been working with accelerant detection canines. The dogs are rewarded with food and only fed when they indicate the presence of any accelerant. As such, basic training is also feeding time. All the presenters stressed throughout that dogs, regardless of size, breed or temperament, need to be trained without force and that both owners and legislators need to be educated. There was widespread agreement that breed-specific legislation does not work or protect the community. Rather, safety is improved when owners train, supervise and take good care of their dog, and also supervise their children. Breed-specific policies need to be replaced with breed-neutral policies that put the responsibility on owners of all breeds. As so aptly stated by Stilwell, prevention is better than cure and, as such, everyone should take the time to understand their dog. n


The Anti-Social Behaviour Crime and Policing Act 2014: The Blue Dog Project: The Canine Ladder of Aggression: -problems/why-does-my-dog/ladder-of-aggression Control of Dogs Order 1992: Dangerous Dogs Act: Duffy, D., Hsu,Y., & and Serpell, J. (2008). Breed differences in canine aggression. Applied Animal Behaviour and Science, 114(3-4), 441-460. doi: .2008.04.006 Hon, K., Fu, C., Chor, C.,Tang, P., Leung,T., Man, C., Ng, P. (2007). Issues associated with dog bite injuries in children and adolescents assessed at the emergency department. Pediatric Emergency Care, 23(7), 445–449: /pubmed/17666924 Khan, K., Kunz, R., Kleijnen, J., & Antes, G. (2003). Five steps to conducting a systematic review. Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine 96(3): 118–121: /articles/PMC539417 Schalamon, J., Ainoedhofer, H., Singer, G., Petnehazy, T., Mayr, J., Kiss, K., Höllwarth, M. (2006). Analysis of dog bites in children who are younger than 17 years. Pediatrics, 117(3):e374-9: Louise Stapleton-Frappell PCT-A is a CTDI (through Do More With Your Dog) and holds force-free instructor certification from In The Doghouse DTC (Nando Brown). She is also currently doing the clicker trainer super trainer course with Kay Laurence. She writes a blog Jambo - The Story So Far, bo-the-story-so-far detailing the impact of Breed Specific Legislation on Jambo’s life and Jambo also has his very own Facebook page,


Exotic Animals and Shelter Awareness

Lara Joseph examines the reasons for the rapid increase in pet birds, pigs and other exotics being abandoned at animal shelters

No force necessary: blue fronted Amazon parrot, Suki, demonstrates the efficacy of training recall with positive reinforcement


s animal trainers and behavior consultants, our work can appear very appealing to pet owners and those who work with and take care of animals. What we demonstrate in our training is a very important tool we can use to educate the public about how our work is done, its impact on behavior and mental stimulation, and responsibility in animal care. Being an animal trainer and understanding applied behavior analysis, using it, and showing others how to use it is very important to me. My intention is to show the average companion animal owner how it can be used with all animals and not stop at the dog or the horse. I show people how to use the same applications with fish, parrots, pigs, wildlife ambassadors, rats, zoo animals and more. Pigs are very food motivated. Most can and will work for hours as long as food continues to be delivered. When I post photos of my pig training on social media it is very common to get comments such as, “Oh, how adorable,” and “I want one!” These comments often make me second guess my work or how I present it. I continue to present it in association with common behavior concerns and the importance of training, as well as overall time spent with the animal. In working with exotic or less commonly owned animals, I am, unfortunately, beginning to see

similar concerns with shelter statistics that the canine community has been privy to for years. I work a lot with the avian community, both psittacines (parrots) and raptors (birds of prey). I show people the inflight recall training photos I have of birds flying down from the rafters to my hand or glove. My intention is to show people how this training can be done, and that we do not need to use force and capture the birds to get them to come to us. Wing clipping is still a common form of supposed behavior modification in parrots and I see it in raptors as well. It is more common in parrots because they are popular in the companion animal community, whereas native raptors require state and federal permits. It seems that it is more shocking for people to see the wings of a hawk clipped but I wonder why it is not equally as shocking for the parrot. Parrot shelters and sanctuaries are becoming more common, filling up quickly and running out of space. It is not uncommon to hear of a shelter that holds over 800 parrots. One of many dilemmas for parrot shelters is the lifespan of the bird. These are not domesticated creatures and, in captivity, some of them can have a lifespan exceeding 30, 50 and even 80 years. I am 44 years old and would love to get another parrot, but I have to be realistic. Before getting another parrot I need to think carefully about who I am going to will him to, because in another 40 years, he BARKS from the Guild/September 2015



will likely have gone through only half of his lifespan. As of 1992, parrots are no longer allowed to be shipped into the US from their native countries, but breeding these birds is still common here as so many of the wild populations are on

This is undoubtedly a “cute” picture but, in reality, the focus should be on behavior issues, training and overall enrichment when considering keeping exotic pets in the home © Can Stock Photo/bazilfoto

the brink of extinction. One of these species is the Spix Macaw, which is extinct in the wild but there are a few research facilities that maintain a small flock. I have often been asked why birds in rescue facilities cannot be released back into the wild, instead of spending the rest of their lives in a shelter or sanctuary. The reason is that, in breeding facilities, it is still widely practiced to pull the eggs from the parents, incubate them and then hand-rear them, feeding them via a syringe. Parrots raised this way do not get the chance to be raised by their parents and are instead imprinted on humans. Imprinted parrots can have a plethora of behavior issues as they mature and will likely not survive if released. There are several reasons for this. Parrots raised in captivity are not raised to learn how to escape predators, making them likely to be hunted by birds of prey or other native predators. They also do not know how to look for food because they have spent their lives eating from a bowl. Wildlife officials do not want non-native birds released into the community, and many parrots may have acquired diseases in captivity that may be transferred to the wild bird population. There are certain species of parrots that have escaped or have been let loose in North America and are surviving in the wild. There are flocks of macaws and other parrots living wild in warmer states such as Florida, Texas and California. Wild flocks of Quaker parakeets are thriving in colder states such as New Jersey and Chicago. They can, however, be damaging to native habitation and are illegal to own if not clipped in some states. The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill is a documentary by Judy Irving focusing on the life of Mark Bittner and his relationship with a flock of feral parrots living and thriving on Telegraph Hill in San Francisco. There is controversy about what to do with these flocks of non-native parrots. The four species of native parrots that once existed in the US are now all extinct. Meanwhile, par40

BARKS from the Guild/September 2015

rots in captivity can be found in abundance in the shelters, and behavior issues such as screaming, biting, self-mutilating and plucking feathers are more common than ever. One of the many other exotics that I train are pigs. One reason for this is the increasing number of behavior concerns that have arisen since pigs have become more popular as pets and are now living inside people’s homes. In addition, many people do not realize that there is no thing such as a teacup pig. Pigs can fit in a teacup right after they have been born and that is about it. Within a few days they can no longer fit, yet the term “teacup” continues to be used heavily in their marketing as companion animals. Mini pigs and pot-bellied pigs are both gathering more and more interest from the pet community. Mini pigs are those who grow to be around 30-50 pounds. Pot-bellied pigs are also considered mini pigs compared to hogs and can range from 50 pounds up to - and even over - 250 pounds. These big animals are sleeping in houses, in people’s beds and living with human families. What is the attraction? This is individualized but there is a huge community that thinks pigs are cute. Pigs can be cuddly and like to snuggle under blankets and lie on couches with people. The mini pigs are a big attraction because of their more petite size. I have seen people polish their hoofs, dress them up in tutus and roll them along in baby strollers. Anthropomorphism is very common in the exotic pet world as well, especially in the mini-pig community. As I mentioned on the PPG Radio Show on May 3, 2015, the top behavior concern pet pig owners contact me about is aggression. Common aggressive behaviors are described as charging, lunging, biting and head-swiping. Pigs are pigs. They like food. Drop a piece of food on the floor with a dog and a pig in the same room and you could quickly be making a trip to the veterinarian. Pigs will show any or all of the above behaviors when food is involved. They will also show them in the absence of food. That aside, it is very important to socialize pet pigs when they are young so that they will accept strangers more readily in the future. Predictable environments can quickly create boredom and with boredom comes destruction. Pigs have been known to uproot tile floors, eat door jambs and carpets, pull wallpaper off of walls and so much more. Lack of appropriate enrichment often accompanies the destructive behavior and, as these behavior concerns rise, people are quickly surrendering their teacup pigs. Sadly, pig shelters are now peppering the US. Equally concerning amongst the pet pig community is the behavior advice often provided through YouTube, Facebook and various other channels. For example, there is a common “training” practice known as “move the pig.” It involves intermittently walking up to a pig and forcing him to move with your foot, hand or whatever else. The concept behind this is to apparently “show” the pig who is “in control” in the household. Pigs are seen doing it to each other so the intention is that pig owners can claim their “dominance” in the same way. The emails I receive requesting behavior consultations are overflowing with people incorporating the move the pig technique.


These rescue pigs are no longer “mini pigs.” Sadly, pig shelters are now peppering the US as aspiring pig owners find it hard to meet the animals’ needs or deal with the subsequent behavioral issues

What is of even bigger concern to me is the ages of the pigs who are now charging, biting, lunging and head-swiping their owners. Just recently I was contacted by two different people who have used the move the pig technique and are now dealing with the fallout. The pigs are a little over one month old and three months old respectively. And then I wonder about the owners who are not reaching out to positive reinforcement trainers even though they are experiencing these same issues. I currently have a client who had been using a shock collar on the family pet pig and boarding him at dog kennels while on vacation. The increase in numbers of these exotic animals in shelters is a cause for great concern. Exotic animal shelters will become more and more prolific. I enjoy sharing my life with parrots, pigs, fish, rats, dogs and the many other animals I come into contact with but this lifestyle and the persistence in training and enrichment it requires is not for everyone. It takes constant interaction, energy and creativity,

Write for BARKS from the Guild or Blog for PPG!

which can be very challenging and inconvenient for the average household. As a result, these animals who were originally considered cute and cuddly can now be seen fast filling shelters nationwide. It is a sad situation for sure. n


PPG Radio Show (May 3, 2015): =Efh1X0m6iWc& on Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill:

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. Lara is a professional member of The Animal Behavior Management Alliance and The International Association of Avian Trainers and Educators.

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

s Get Healthy, Get a Dog s Pet Professionals: Keeping It Objective s What Does Citronella Really Do to a Dog? s Confession of a Professional Dog Trainer s The Impact of Using Shock to Train Recall s An Open Letter to the Scottish Parliament Regarding the Use of Shock in Dog Training s Shaping without a Clicker


BARKS from the Guild/September 2015



Independence with Benefits

Jane Ehrlich explains why cats live longer, healthier lives if they remain indoors, and how

hile living in England, I often met vets and other cat-lovers who maintained that outside cats lived healthier lives, even if they were shorter ones. One professor at the Royal Veterinary College recently admonished me, “Keeping cats indoors is both cruel and unnatural. It’s a pity the US doesn’t feel that way.” We nearly got into a scrap. The US, indeed, does not. Our cats, say US vets and behaviorists, shelters and rescues, should remain inside. Why the discrepancy? Tradition. Fewer outside risks, such as coyotes, bobcats and, presumably, outside dogs. Less traffic in smaller towns. The image of the great hunter stalking and racing through grasses and zooming up trees, his/her wild spirit and free nature unleashed, is both romantic and prevailing. Even if the truth is something completely different. A cat’s independent nature is one of the traits we love best. Cats get lazy and obese if they stay indoors, do they not? All that ranging territory. And that artificially enormous density hassle if there are several cats in the home. All very stressful. Better a shorter, happier life than a longer, less “normal” one, yes? No. Keep them in. It is easy to say, I know. But the fact is, cats can have extremely happy, healthy, normal lives when they are indoors. They are avoiding the stress (and the physical and psychological problems that derive from that) that comes from chronic threats: other animals from cats to coyotes, dogs to foxes, the cruelty of many people, poisonous plants, traffic, illnesses from infections to feline leukemia to rabies to FIV, drowning (a problem in irrigation-pipe-ridden cities like mine), being frozen, stolen, trapped, tortured... You know those arguments. Just part of the risk of being a pet? Of being a pet owner? It should not have to be. One client recently explained, “Riley knows his limits when he’s in the front yard.” Even if this were true of most cats, the other neighborhood animals and people may not know theirs. Or care. Would you let your young child roam like that? I doubt it. I do not want my cats to be those who were swiped by kids for “gang initiation” (I have known of three this month, alone), by those selling their fur, being shot or poisoned or ripped up by car engines or tires, or coyotes for that matter. Too many clients have told me too many horror stories. Keeping a cat safe by keeping him indoors without the tools to exercise his instincts would be “cruel” indeed. This is not what I am suggesting. I have seen as many cats for “behavior issues” who are outdoor cats as I have for those living strictly inside, and 42

BARKS from the Guild/September 2015

This Maine Coon is enjoying her cat run, complete with vertical space, scratch post and outdoor view

© Can Stock Photo Inc./gornostaj


to ensure they have sufficient mental enrichment

have seen no data to support the idea that outdoor cats are emotionally healthier. I do not know anyone in the field of feline behavior who has. “Unnatural?” Nobody would sanction denying a cat’s natural hunting instinct. The answer is to enrich your cat’s everyday life by providing the stimulation and the action she both wants and needs – inside, with an extensively enriched environment. With this, arguments for keeping cats outdoors simply do not stand up. For scratching, climbing, increased territory, safety, plus that needed environmental control (that awareness of who is where, when, and what is going on), get six- or seven- foot towers. Not those flimsy ones using fleece and cardboard, but sturdy, heavy ones, with hidey-holes and easily accessible platforms. Cheap towers are poorly-designed, with levels stacked so Mittens cannot easily jump from one to another. Posts should be sisal-roped, not carpeted. Rope gives a much better surface for scratching, is easy to replace, and it is hard to explain to cats that “This carpet is fine to claw up, the one on the ground isn’t.” Put cat towers in front of windows for the best cat television. They are wonderful for climbing and also decrease the stress of that ‘density’ that can occur with more than a couple of cats in a home. Speaking of climbing and jumping, add shelves - across walls, in hallways. For outdoor exercise, introduce your cat to a leash or harness. Add a good selection of interactive toys. The Cat Dancer, Neko Flies (with the Cat-i-pede attachment) and Da Bird are three favorites. Introduce several play sessions a day to ensure a good measure of play, exercise and bonding. Ribbons, paper bags, boxes, cat tracks, catnip-filled socks, balled-up paper,

non-toxic soap bubbles, you name it. All can be excellent toys for cats. Hide the toys and hide treats so your cat has to hunt. Rotate toys so the cat does not get bored. Good play sessions, company to chase and play with and watching the diet ensures no cat has to get lazy or obese. Hiding kibble behind cushions, under sofas, tucked around pillows, even scattering it across the floor means your cat works a little for her food. You can also create a safe “outdoor” environment. This can be a “catio” built on a slim balcony, outdoor enclosures accessible by flap or window, or something more elaborate, with high channels running across the ceiling. All of these will provide fresh air and the outside views your cat needs. Look online for catio makers or create your own, with the help of a handyperson. Add towers for climbing, plants (catnip? oat grasses?), platforms for sunning and boxes for hiding in. Make sure that the top is covered to prevent cats from climbing out or predators such as coyotes, hawks and owls getting in. Those forever-changing smells, views and sounds all mean massive stimulation in your cat’s life. I am a big proponent of cats having other cat friends. While some cats do need to be the “only one,” most would benefit from a feline companion. I am firmly convinced that cats and people have a richer relationship with each other when Fluffy is inside. Humans are not always enough, although of course you need to build in enough quality time with them. Cats are healthier emotionally and physically when they have someone to be entertained by, to learn from, comforted by, mutually groom, curl


up with and have fun with. I have seen so many cats with symptoms of frustration, boredom, aggression and depression disappear once these enrichments were put in place. And they do live longer. That fact is not disputed. Much longer. Prof. Peter Neville, renowned feline behaviorist, states that the cat “accepts the benefits of living in the family and den without compromising its self-determining and independent behaviour.” (Wills & Wolf, 1993). Dr. Nicholas Dodman, head of the department of behavior at the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University and equally renowned, keeps his cats inside having, by his own admission, lost several to horrific outside events. “It’s a lot safer to keep cats indoors,” he said. “The average lifespan of an indoor cat is around 12-14 years [or more], while outdoor cats are lucky to reach double digits [more like five or six].” n


Wills, J., & Wolf, A. (1993). Handbook of Feline Medicine. Oxford, UK: Pergamon Press

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

Feline Behavior Unmasked

Jane Ehrlich responds to commonly asked questions about feline © Can Stock Photo/BENGUHAN

behavior problems and feline behavior in general

Q: My cat is ripping my sofa to shreds, and despite my using water spray bottles and yelling at him and clapping my hands, he won't stop. I have a scratching post in our home, which he uses, so I don't know what else to do. Can you help?

© Can Stock Photo Inc./hannadarzy

A: Whatever you yell, spray or clap, that will only make him stop while you're there. If you are lucky. Certainly, those efforts will ramp up any cat's Different cats prefer different resentment or types of scratch fear of you. He posts will still engage in the behavior when you are not present so is not really learning anything. In addition, he is not being offered an alternative behavior. We need to set him up for success (rather

than failure, as is currently happening) by giving him a more attractive alternative than the sofa. By using positive reinforcement instead of punishment we can “train” him to scratch in a different place and eliminate the shouting and spraying for good. A cat needs to scratch - it marks his territory, sends messages if there are other cats around, tones and trims his claws, and gives good, needed stretches for back and shoulder muscles. First, what kind of scratching posts do you have? Carpet is not that satisfying. Experiment with textures; try sisal-rope wrapped ones that are at least as tall as the cat at full stretch. Corrugated cardboard also has its feline fans. Have several posts around the house, especially near where the cat naps, as cats love to stretch and scratch after a good doze.Are the scratchers the right type? Cats can be picky; some like to scratch vertically, some horizontally, and some even prefer an angle. Pet stores sell all three. Put a post right in front of the clawed spot, and get the cat used to scratching there (rubbing the post with catnip can be a great motivator here). Then, only an inch at a time, gradually move the post away from the sofa and the cat should go with it. Don’t rush it though.You can also temporarily cover the sofa with a lemon scent-misted cloth. Cats usually dislike the smell and will (usually) actively avoid it. n BARKS from the Guild/September 2015



Slowly Does It

Patience Fisher explains the concept of slow introductions for new cat owners and outlines


why they are so important for a successful outcome

home that had a resident cat, they might not understand why slow introductions are needed. If they grew up seeing cats added to the household and seeming to fit right in, or at least work it out, they will often expect this new cat to do the same. If this childhood pet was stressed by this instant immersion but the adopter did not pick up the clues, he may be shocked if his newly-adopted cat is aggressive or a target of aggression. There is so much excitement and so much going on during an adoption it is not surprising that an adopter does not remember what was meant by slow introductions. The simple three-step guide I developed explains the concept, breaks it down into small steps and is a handy reference. I came up with the timeframes in the brochure from my personal experience Slow introductions with fostering about 30 cats. Since so many cat owners resident animals can want to adopt another, I wanted to determine if my help a cat settle more quickly and easily into fosters a new home would be best suited © Can Stock Photo Inc./cynoclub for a home process had been rushed. As a result, I saw a need for a very sim- that already had a cat, or one where they ple, short, how-to brochure for introducing a new cat to a resicould be an only cat. dent cat. I am sharing excerpts from the brochure I wrote, My cats were very entitled Your New Cat (see pp.45-46), to help other shelters, cat easy-going about acbehavior consultants and cat owners. cepting a new cat so I My focus when writing the brochure was to make it easy to was able to introduce read, understand and implement. This is why it gives concrete about 10 cats, one at timeframes as a guide. Of course, some cats will adjust more a time, to my cats. quickly and others much more slowly, which the brochure menThis gave me a good tions. The concept of waiting for a week is repeated and in bold in the hopes that adopters will at least do that much. That is also feel for timeframes and methods in dewhy the stare and growl are mentioned as signs of stress; it is a bare minimum to stop exposure when this is going on, and these veloping this protocol. My cats are now are easily-recognized behaviors. Lip licking and body posture are retired from training not signals most people notice. I also shied away from any counfosters and enjoying terconditioning, since if done incorrectly the adopter could be their later years. setting themselves up for redirected aggression. I recommended Cats in shelters risk being returned for None of my foster a bath towel instead of cardboard simply because everyone has not getting on with cats were returned one handy. I have seen so many simple procedures not followed other cats already following adoption. n in the home because of small inconveniences. I wanted to make this very doable. I added a brief protocol for establishing an only cat in Patience Fisher BS DipFBST CVA BSBIO is the owner of your home, introducing a cat to a dog, and kitten safety. Walk, Play, Learn,, in Pittsburgh, People are usually excited to let the new cat loose in their Pennsylvania. Her focus is feline behavior consulting. She foshome and to integrate him immediately with their families, intered cats and assisted with adoptions at two Pittsburgh-area cluding resident pets. If they have never had a cat before, they shelters from 2006-2010. She is also a certified veterinary asprobably will not have a good understanding of how cautious and sistant. easily stressed cats are. If they have never added a new cat to a

© Can Stock Photo Inc./Dwight

here are many challenges for shelters in finding adoptive homes for cats. As an adoption counselor, I always found it disheartening to have a cat returned to the shelter for not getting along with the resident cats. During the adoption process, the concept of slow introductions was explained, but upon the cat’s return we often found out that the introduction


BARKS from the Guild/September 2015

1.Territory for Me (Three Weeks) When It takes time for a cat to feel secure in her you arnew home rive home and plop your cat down, she has no way of know© Can Stock Photo Inc./surachetmee ing whether or not she is going to have to fight for territory. Cats become socially mature between one and three years old and gradually become more territorial. It may take three weeks before they lose the desire to follow their homing instinct and try to return to their previous territory. It is imperative that you keep your cat inside during this period. Of course, keeping your cat indoors is always a safer option. In order to make your cat feel secure and to ensure that she knows where the litter box, scratch post and scratch pad are, you should set up a room for her, which contains all of these necessities. If you can keep any other pets out of this room for a few days before bringing your new cat home, the room will not smell like someone else's territory. At a minimum, she will have to stay in this room until she has used the litter box and scratch post or pad. If your new cat is hiding or hissing, she will have to stay in her room until she settles down. Since this may take anywhere from a week to 10 days, you will need to put food, water bowls and a bed in her room. As the room acquires her scent and days pass without incident, she will become more secure and more sociable. 2. Person on My Side (First Week Is Key)

© Can Stock Photo Inc./JackF

Cats need to learn that they can trust their new guardians

Your new cat has no way of knowing if you have his best interests in mind. He may be especially suspicious if you smell of other pets

or if there are lively children in the house. If you go into the room you have set up for him and he hides, let him have a few hours to himself. Then go into his room and talk to him. Do not try to pull him out from his hiding place. Do not stare at him. Spending time in his room daily reading or watching television is a good way to break the ice. When he stops hiding or hissing and lets you pet him, it is best to give him a full week to bond with you. If there are young children, you may try short, supervised visits before the end of the first week if he seems relaxed. If your new cat is a kitten, he will need to be in a kitten-safe room at night and when you are not at home.

3. Pet Hierarchy Established (First Month Is Key) Adult cats will set up a flexible hierarchy, with a linear or complex order for the other pets. When a newcomer enters the territory, you want to make sure the fur does not fly while she finds her spot in the social order. This is often true when mixing cats and dogs too. Either way, do not introduce a new cat to any resident pets until the new cat has had a full week to establish her one room as her territory, and trusts at least one of the people in the house. During this time, spend most of your time with Adult cats generally live the resiin fluid hierarchies dent pets – you do not want them hating the new arrival before they even meet her! After petting her, it is a good idea to wash her scent off your hands. If there are no glaring stares or hissing (or barking) on either side of the closed door or at you after you have visited the new cat, and a week has passed, it is time to see the rest of the house. Put the resident pets out of her sight in a room or crate and let the new cat explore the house. She needs to know the lay of the land and her way back to her safe room before the big stress of meeting the animals who claim this territory. Return her to her room when she is done exploring; if no one was stressed, then you are well on your way to the next step. When it is time to meet the resident cat, simply open the door to her room.You may wish to set up a toddler gate the first time. Have a bath towel handy should you need to block the cats’ view of each other, or separate them. If the cats do not chose to meet, simply close the new cat in her room when you no longer have the time to watch them. Try it again later. If all you get is a brief hiss and an air swat, it was a successful first

© Can Stock Photo Inc./RUZANNA


YOUR NEW CAT: Science-based Manners for Cats

ongratulations on adopting a cat! This is an exciting day for you, but quite an adjustment for your new companion. If you keep in mind your cat's point of view, the transition will go smoother, and your new cat will more quickly understand that he has a wonderful new home. Below are the three milestones a cat needs to achieve to truly feel he is at home-sweet-home.


BARKS from the Guild/September 2015


FELINE cat to a resident dog, use these safety measures as well as a leash on the dog to ensure the cat's safety. Whether it is the first meeting or a dozen meetings later, once they are merely hissing without arching the back or staring, let the cats interact for 10 or 20 minutes, working up to several hours a day. Watch them the whole time. This second stage is very crucial to their future relationship.You must ensure that they are separated immediately if there is any stress or aggression.You do not want fighting or aggression to become a habit; it may only take a couple of weeks for them to establish their hierarchy. However, if you have two assertive cats, this might take many months. Keep in mind that some cats will never be friends or share litter boxes even after years together. They may, however, have a peaceful coexistence if introductions and resources are handled correctly. Do not leave your new pet alone with the resident pets until © Can Stock Photo Inc./ilona75 you are sure it is safe to do so. This probably will not be until at meeting. If the cats sit, stare and growl, calmly close the door. least the third week she is living with you. Signs to look for are Try it again later. When they are relaxed in each other’s pressleeping close to each other, using each other’s litter boxes, playing ence allow them to spend an increasing number of minutes in with their ears forward or walking past each other without hissing sight of each other. If they fight or one cat chases the other, or swatting. Be very slow to move the new cat’s resources out of calmly put the towel between them to disorient and redirect her safe room. Only move them after she is relaxed outside her the aggressor. Keep them separated for at least a day. The next room and move the resources gradually, a few inches a day. time they meet, go back to using the toddler gate or a slightlyopened door so they are unable to fight. When introducing a - Patience Fisher BS DipFBST CVA BSBIO Newly arrived cats need to find their place in the social order of other pets in the home

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BARKS from the Guild/September 2015


Guiding Principles for Parrot Enrichment

In the third of a four-part feature, Amy Martin outlines the steps for creating an effective


species-appropriate enrichment program for parrots

Enrichment provides opportunities for birds to make choices and exhibit naturalistic behaviors – IAATE

All Parrots Need Enrichment

It is all too easy for us to look at a parrot in our home or facility and tell ourselves things like: “They’re fine. What they have is sufficient. Their enclosure and perching is adequate. They seem happy enough. We don’t need to do all of that fancy enrichment. We don’t have any issues right now.” Truth be told, and speaking from personal and professional experience, that is a short-sighted way of looking at things and risks setting everyone up for failure. The problems at play for you, the parrot and his enclosure mates may not be obvious. There could be numerous behavioral and medical issues brewing below the feathered surface. Undetected behavioral concerns may be compounded when left unaddressed and can manifest into health and behavioral issues before you know it. I have seen this happen when the perfect storm of stressors occurs. Secondly, you may have a bird under your care who is not living his or her life to the fullest. But you have the power to change this. If you have parrots (or even just one parrot) under your care in your home or at a facility or shelter, I recommend that you consider doing the following: • Decide what type of enrichment is best for each individual parrot. • Develop an effective plan for enriching the life of the parrot under your care. • Develop appropriate measures of effectiveness for the enrichment you are providing. • Ensure that enrichment is provided consistently and safely to each parrot.

Enrichment is not optional for parrots in captivity

Guiding Principles of a Parrot Enrichment Program

If we are going to be successful with the prevention of medical and behavioral problems in any species of captive parrot, it cannot not be a haphazard attempt. We must consider a number of factors and implement several techniques. Some enrichment options will work better than others, some options may have unexpected negative effects, and others will be outright ineffective. We must account for all outcomes. All successful and effective parrot enrichment programs have guiding principles. These principles help to set up both people and their parrots for success. These principles are adapted from Young (2003, chapter 4) and The International Association of Avian Trainers and Educators Enrichment Position Statement. Whether you have a parrot in your home or your facility, many factors need to be considered (see graphic Guiding Principles of Successful Parrot Enrichment Programs below). We must move beyond generalizing parrots. If you have multiple species of parrots under your care, all taxa need to be represented. Design your enrichment based on the species-specific needs of individual parrots. We need to consider the natural and individual history of each parrot (Assembling the Species Puzzle, BARKS from the Guild, July 2015). You will also need to ensure that you have the latest, cited in-

Graphic by Amy Martin

s we discussed in the first two articles of this series (see Stimulation for Psittacines, BARKS from the Guild, May 2015, pp. 48-50 and Assembling the Species Puzzle, BARKS from the Guild, July 2015, pp. 47-49), species-appropriate enrichment programs for captive parrots provide many benefits. When used properly and regularly, enrichment for companion parrots can enhance their well-being in captivity and as companion animals.

BARKS from the Guild/September 2015



formation about a parrot’s behavioral biology. Do not rely on opinions of others or what you believe to be true. Get the facts. We do not want to wait until a parrot is displaying unwanted, damaging and unhealthy behaviors before we provide enrichment. Instead we want to be proactive in creating an environment in which the parrot is less likely to display stereotypical or unwanted behaviors. There may come a time when we have to react quickly when behavior challenges arise. Of course, going into “reactive mode” is not ideal so we need to be prepared to respond quickly and positively to unforeseen circumstances.

An effective enrichment program should be perceived as a thoughtful and enduring process and not be comprised of random acts.The program should be proactive, not reactive and should be based upon the animals’ biological, social and cognitive needs. Each enrichment initiative should have a measurable goal that allows each animal to have choice and control in their environment. – Fogarty

We must encourage a parrot to have many choices within his/her environment. These choices can range from choosing a variety of shelter and shade and participating in training or refraining to making food choices. We will cover this in greater detail in the next article. Each parrot should have goal-oriented training and enrichment. These goals can be general (like encouraging the parrot to explore an enclosure) or specific (like preventing feather plucking).You can also create multiple goals for an individual parrot or multiple goals for multiple parrots. It is important to maintain a schedule. This should include the type of enrichment that will be introduced to the parrot, including a specified date, time, duration, location and type. The duration of exposure to an enrichment item is something else that must be considered. What is appropriate for a parrot is influenced by a variety of factors, including the durabil-

Moluccan cockatoo Chopin and volunteer Kathleen demonstrate their bond. Chopin is aggressive with most other people


BARKS from the Guild/September 2015

ity of the enrichment device, the hygienic concerns associated with it, and the parrot’s interest in it. It is absolutely necessary to evaluate whether or not the enrichment we offer a parrot has improved the welfare of the individual bird. This needs to be done when the enrichment is first introduced and then periodically throughout the year. How you assess it can vary, but the goal is to determine if a particular enrichment approach is meeting a behavioral goal and whether it continues to do so over time. Documenting each parrot’s initial reaction and response to the offered enrichment is very helpful. Being able to assess the frequency of the parrot’s normal behaviors, the frequency and severity of stereotypical and damaging behaviors, and the frequency and severity of undesirable behaviors before and after the enrichment was offered helps enrichment options to be maintained or redesigned for each individual parrot. This guarantees you are making the most out of your enrichment program. Of the utmost importance is addressing all potential safety hazards before offering any type of enrichment. If you have family members or volunteers helping you, consider using some sort of approval process for any new enrichment ideas they have. This reduces the chance for accidents or injuries and ensures maximum safety. It is advantageous to involve everyone in the home or facility. Volunteers, interns and family members can assist with enrichment, but their roles in the program need to be clearly defined. Offer a variety of enrichment options so that you are setting yourself and your parrot up for success. For the enrichment to continue successfully, you need to keep things fresh and interesting to keep the parrot’s caretaker (you, or a family member or volunteer) interested and involved. Enrichment should be presented on a varied schedule and in a variety of contexts to make sure the parrot does not become desensitized or familiarized to the enrichment. We need to apply the five categories of enrichment (see Stimulation for Psittacines, BARKS from the Guild, May 2015). Rescued blue and gold macaws Sarge and Chica cannot be together (to prevent breeding) but are housed in an area that allows them to explore their environments parallel to each other and stay mentally and physically enriched

Graphic by Amy Martin

Enrichment does not have to break your bank, and there are a number of economical solutions that can often be created at little or no cost.You just have to be creative. Think of what you can do with recycled or donated items.You can even use naturally available materials, environmental conditions and training and socialization sessions. Get help from volunteers, friends, and don’t forget to fundraise. We all have busy lives, but we need to schedule time for enrichment. A parrot in captivity is dependent on the care from her human and what that person chooses to make time for in their schedule. Daily enrichment needs only a few minutes. Setting a daily, weekly and monthly schedule is vital for a captive parrot’s well-being.

AVIAN References

Husband, S., Mayo L., & Sodaro, C. (Updated by Fogarty, D.). (2008). Orangutan Species Survival Plan Husbandry Manual/ Environmental Enrichment for the Chicago Zoological Society. Retrieved from /CenterAnimalWelfare/Orangutan-Husbandry-Manual /Environmental-Enrichment.pdf The International Association of Avian Trainers and Educators Enrichment Position Statement: /PositionStatement_Enrichment.pdf Martin, A. (2015, May). Stimulation for Psittacines, BARKS from the Guild, pp. 48-50: /bftg_may_2015_online_version_opt/49?e=4452575/12622747 Martin, A. (2015, July). Assembling the Species Puzzle. BARKS from the Guild, pp. 47-49: /docs/bftg_july_2015_online_version_opt_1/47 Young, R. (2007). Environmental Enrichment for Captive Animals/Environmental Enrichment. Somerset, NJ:Wiley-Blackwell. Retrieved from Amy Martin owns and solely operates Conscious Companion®,, serves on the board of directors of the Cape Fear Parrot Sanctuary, and is a member of the advisory team for Family Paws Parent Education, When she is not consulting, writing, or educating the public through workshops, she teaches Wetland Ecology (B-WET) in the field for Prince William County Middle Schools, and is a Make-A-Wish Granter for the Mid- Atlantic Chapter.

Enrichment should be considered a necessary part of every parrot guardian’s daily routine

The Right Program for You and Your Parrot

It is easy to look at all of these guidelines and feel like you cannot do this on your own but it is not as difficult as it may seem. Do not let the need to adhere to these principles deter you from creating your own program.You can simplify it to meet the needs of each parrot in your home or shelter. Break down the guidelines into easy-to-use steps that make sense for your individual situation. Taking the time to create a personalized, species specific parrot enrichment program will not only improve the life of the parrot under your care, but it will improve your life together. The possibilities for fun, health and success are endless. n

This is Part Three in a four-part series about parrot enrichment. BARKS from the Guild/September 2015



New Bird on the Block

Vicki Ronchette explains how to introduce a new bird to the flock with an eye to


a successful future and a lasting relationship

ver the years I have introduced several parrots into my flock of companion birds. During this time I have found there are some things that should be done early on to help shape the bird into a good companion, while also giving him time and respecting his boundaries. I have talked to a lot of people who were disappointed that their new bird’s behavior changed after a couple of months in their home. Some people call this a “honeymoon period.” I do not use that term as I feel it implies the bird is purposely exhibiting good behavior only to intentionally change for the worse. Depending on the species of bird you are bringing into your family, how you interact with them and manage them during the first few months is critical. Many species of parrots can live a very long time, so a few days or weeks is actually a fairly short period of time for them. Compared to dogs and cats, parrots generally take a bit longer to settle in and become really comfortable.

Take Your Time

It is important to realize that you should always do your best not to push the bird to interact. If your newly adopted bird is shy, nervous or defensive and does not want to be handled, it is wise to allow him as much time as he needs to get used to you. Let him set the pace of things so that you can set up the relationship to be one where he trusts you and understands that you respect his boundaries and limitations. Taking your time in the beginning can do a lot for your long-term relationship. Take advantage of this time to simply observe your bird and get to know him. Understanding his body language will go a long way in helping you have a strong relationship with him.

Reinforce Vocalizations that You Like

Birds can be loud. Depending on the species they can be unbelievably loud and this is, in fact, why many of them lose their homes. Some vocalizing is completely normal for all birds; therefore, you should not try to stop all vocalization. However, constant screaming or loud vocalizing is not normal and can usually be modified. It is easier to change this behavior when it first begins, before a strong reinforcement history has been established. Reinforce all vocalizations that you like. Reinforce your bird when he talks, whistles or makes quiet vocalizations.You can go to the cage and talk to your bird, whistle or talk back or offer a 50

BARKS from the Guild/September 2015

The first few months are critical when introducing a new bird to your home

treat. The idea is that you want the bird to know that you like and will reinforce and respond to quiet vocalizations. Sometimes birds are quieter in new homes or environments when they are first checking things out, settling in, and simply observing their new surroundings. Take advantage of this fact and condition your bird to remain soft-spoken.

Playing Independently

When people bring home a newly-adopted adult or baby bird it is natural for the new owners to want to hold, dote on and spend time with him. The problem with this is that they may not always have quite as much time to spend with him later on and if they do that a lot in the beginning the bird is likely to get used to that routine. It is important to teach a companion bird early on how to play independently. This can be done by offering the bird toys, different forms of enrichment, and foraging opportunities inside and outside of the cage. Have a few different play areas such as a hanging perch (for instance a boing or a rope) and a tree in addition to the bird’s cage. Load them with fun things for the bird to do. Periodically reinforce the behavior of playing independently.

Learn the BirdÊs Favorites

Since you will want to teach new behaviors and reinforce things you like, it is critical that you figure out what your bird finds enjoyable.You will use those things to reinforce desirable behavior.

When you offer a variety of food, see what the bird chooses first.You can then use that as a special treat just for training. As you get to know your bird you will begin to learn if he also enjoys things such as being petted or scratched, certain toys or treats, clapping, talking or other attention from you. Take note of these things, as you can use them as rewards in the future.

Stationing in the Cage

This is a helpful skill for all birds but particularly for those who are defensive around their cages. Stationing simply means that you train the bird to go to a specific spot when you ask him to. For instance, when Joey, my White Capped Pionus, first came to live with me he was very defensive around his cage and would lunge and smack his beak into the cage bars. I taught him to station on a perch by luring him with food and then giving him a piece of a grape every time he then sat on it. Once he was easily doing this, I would say “perch” and then lure him. In no time he was going directly to his station when I said “perch.” This allowed me to change his food and water, clean his cage and work around his cage. I purposely would give larger pieces of grape so that it kept him busy for a while. One of the useful things about station training is that it allows you to train easily with your bird inside the cage, which is important when dealing with parrots who may attempt to bite.


Targeting is simply teaching the bird to follow a target.You can use something like a chopstick, a pen or even your finger. Once

It is important that companion birds are able to play independently


you have chosen a target, offer a treat for looking at it. Once he looks at it easily, wait for him to move toward it and reinforce that. Continue to build on the behavior until he follows the target stick to wherever you move it.

Stepping Up When Asked

If you have adopted a baby bird or an adult bird who steps up, it is still a good idea to reinforce stepping up. I always ask a bird, “Do you want to step up?” as a question that the bird is permitted to say “no” to. With new birds, I find out what their favorite treats are and then give them one every time they step up even if they will step up without it. I started doing this when I discovered that so many birds step up readily at first but then stop after a period of time. It seems that when they were unsure and the environment was unfamiliar they were willing to do it, but once they had settled in they were no longer willing to do so. Usually if you reinforce the behavior of stepping up by giving a food treat, the behavior of stepping up for you will develop a reinforcement history and be meaningful to the bird. Some people feel that because you are holding the bird after he steps up that you have reinforced him. However, I never assume that any bird has an interest in being with me until I have spent some time developing a relationship with him. Eventually, being held may indeed be a reinforcer for stepping up, but until I feel strongly that the bird feels that way about me I use food to reinforce step ups.

A Flexible Routine

While I do have a fairly consistent routine with my birds, I am

Introducing variety to the daily routine can help birds be more tolerant of unexpected changes

BARKS from the Guild/September 2015



very careful to occasionally change things. Life changes and I do not want to have a routine so rigid that my birds cannot handle it or are thrown off if their routine is changed. Feed around the same time but not exactly the same time. Use different bowls. Hold the bird at different times of the day. Make slight changes now so he does not become frustrated or upset when things vary.

A Variety of Healthy Foods

Feeding a diet that consists of a variety of healthy foods is one of the best things you can do for your bird. My birds eat a combination of pellets, seed or nutriberries and an ever-changing fresh food offering. I make chops and mashes, muffins and breads or sometimes just cut up fresh vegetables and fruits, pastas, rice and so much more. Baby birds who were raised on fresh foods should readily take to them but older birds and even young birds who are not used to fresh foods may take some time to try them. Do not give up: keep offering. Sometimes making muffins or mash and sprinkling a little seed on top is enough encouragement. n

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Vicki Ronchette CPDT CAP2 is the owner of Braveheart Dog Training,, and the author of Positive Training for Show Dogs – Building a Relationship for Success. She is a raptor handler with Native Bird Connections and lives in Northern California.

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BARKS from the Guild/September 2015

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The Perfect Storm



Amy Martin provides a glimpse into some of the common complexities and unique challenges faced by military families to help pet professionals gain a better understanding of them as clients

ew people understand the stressors that military families face. They deal with a wide range of issues ranging from frequent moves to the prolonged absence of their loved one during both war and peacetime deployments. These issues can last anywhere from a few months to a lifetime. This article will discuss some of the challenges that can arise within a military family, how they affect all living beings in the home, and how you can recognize them during your consultations.

Military life can be stressful for dogs, just as it is for family members

Appearances Can Be Deceiving

What comes to mind when you think of a military family? The idea that most people have is not always the reality. I am the wife of a Marine. Throughout my adult life I considered myself to be self-sufficient, but there were many times during my husband’s military absences when I felt alone, overwhelmed and at my wits’ end. I share this with you because my own challenges with military life enable me to deeply relate to the military families with whom I consult. My personal experiences are unique to me, but they represent issues that are commonplace in the military world.

Breaking It Down

Complicated does not come close to describing the military family’s lifestyle. These families are as diverse as you can possibly imagine, coming from all backgrounds, races and religions. While there are some common threads that are unique to the fabric of military life, many are the same type of things that “normal” people deal with: the need to deal with physical and emotional stress, being young parents, working with a limited or fixed budget, mom and dad both having to work, owning (perhaps multiple) pets that have been rescued, multiple children, a sometimes cavalier approach to dog training, and what is often a general lack of knowledge about dog (and cat) behavior and dog and child safety.

Lack of Choices

Military families do not have a lot of say in where they are assigned. The military move season is one of the most stressful times in their lives, and they go through it every three years or so. Did you choose what kind of home you live in now? Where your child goes to school and what doctor you see? If you did, count your blessings. Part of the military lifestyle is accepting the fact that living it means a lack of choices when it comes to many things like schools, health care specialists, and that other critical service providers are often chosen for you. Did you have to pay a pet deposit for your pets? Count that as a blessing too. Most

© Can Stock Photo/sveter

military base housing will not accept certain breeds of dogs, and many military families are often faced with the heart-breaking decision to surrender a furry family member to a shelter. Having a choice matters, and when those choices are taken away it creates a tremendous amount of worry and stress.

Lack of Life Experience

Most of the families I consult are young. That can be a disadvantage for them, especially when raising a family with multiple pets in the home. Many young military families are inexperienced and sometimes quite immature. This is something else to keep in mind when consulting with younger families. A lack of maturity can lead to a lack of awareness. A lack of awareness leads to a lack of security and safety in the home.

Lack of Stability

If you have ever moved, then you know the stress and strife that comes from having to pack up everything and relocate. Military families always feel like they are on the move, and they often have to move on short notice as well. According to the Military Child Education Coalition, military children move an average of six to 12 times during their school years. Add in the stress of finding a school or daycare for the children, a landlord who accepts pets and so on. Stress accumulates and affects every living being in the home.

What Deployments Entail

Deployments and what comes along with them are another chalBARKS from the Guild/September 2015



lenge altogether. There is an emotional cycle that takes place before the deployment begins, when the family gets the news that a deployment is coming. It begins with a period of intense emotions. Fear and anger seem to come up a lot for many spouses and children. Some families go through a period of detachment and withdrawal. It is something that is far more common that we realize, but if we are aware of these challenges we can better support the military family with which we are working.

During Deployment

When a deployment is in full swing, the family members back home will experience a wide range of feelings and pressures. These are just a few that I have personally experienced, and what my military friends and clients have expressed as well: • • • • • • • • • • • •

Fear for their service member's safety Worry or panic Loneliness, sadness, depression Added family duties and responsibilities Finding a new job or restarting a personal business Making new friends and connections Feeling overwhelmed Financial difficulties Dealing with personal problems alone The loss of family members or beloved pets Having to evacuate due to unplanned circumstances Being needed, loved and supported

These can all be contributing stress factors in military homes with children, pets and behavioral issues.

The Invisible Scars

When I go into a military home with children, I have often been asked to work with the family on an immediate, pressing issue. It is usually something that the mother needs fixed now – for example, a dog who is growling at the toddler. But I know there is so much more than the dog’s unwanted behavior that is happen-

As in any family, a lack of experience of dog ownership can be a factor when dealing with behavioral issues

ing behind the scenes and below the surface in the home. The effects of deployments extend far beyond the deployed service member. Entire families are psychologically affected by them and other compounding factors. Pregnancy depression and psychosis, anxiety, postpartum depression and mood disorders affect nearly 1.3 million mothers in the US alone. Mothers are not the only ones who are suffering silently. According to a study in the journal Pediatrics, one in four military children exhibits symptoms of depression, and more than one in three has anxiety issues. Each new challenge can create a great deal of anxiety for every living being in the home. In our roles as pet professionals, we must be aware of these often undetected and undiscussed scars of military family life.

„The fear of abandonment with the kids has been heightened because they've been left behind so many times.‰ - Justin Cole, licensed clinical social worker, New Parent Support Program, Army Community Service

Being the Family Rock

Children in the home can sometimes feel more than anxiety and depression. They can often feel the need to assume the responsibilities of the deployed parent. It is just one more compounding stress factor in the home. Often, they will hear things like this from mom or dad before they leave (or will believe it without being told): “You're the man (or woman) of the house now.You have to take care of everybody while I am gone.” Being able to recognize this when we are consulting for a family is incredibly valuable. We can learn to recognize who is carrying a large load, who is taking on too much, and offer suggestions on how to help ease the stress on everyone. Families can face new challenges when a service member returns home. The “homecoming honeymoon” ends quickly. The general public sees the feel-good videos of families rushing to greet each other, the dog and kids leaping into the soldier’s arms. Usually, that is the extent of what most of the world knows about the nature of the homecoming period. The reality is that Military homes are often looking for a “quick fix” to behavior problems, but there can also be underlying issues to address

© Can Stock Photo/Antonio_Diaz


BARKS from the Guild/September 2015

after deployments end, new stresses begin. Things do not go back to the way they were before. People change from deployment. “We see a lot of adjustment disorders caused from a stressor. Some kids might not have a behavioral disorder, but their behavioral problems are a result of these difficulties adjusting. Even infants and toddlers can have difficulties adjusting to a new move and a deployment.” - Dr. Delano, clinical director, school behavioral health, Child and Family Assistance Center, Evans Army Community Hospital

Reintegration to Family Life

When my husband returned home from his most recent deployment, I saw the adjustment that he went through. His was brief and mostly without note, but he is much older than the families with whom I consult and he has been in for a while and has been through a number of deployments (although that is no guarantee that service members are good at handling them). But many younger military families may not yet have learned how to safely and healthily manage it all. Further, they may be dealing with emotional and physical traumas caused from previous service overseas. This is another factor that we need to be aware of if we are consulting a family who has a service member recently returned from deployment. „The first day back is just a fairy tale, of course. And then you have to start trying to put yourself back into the life of your family.‰ -1st Lt. Jeremiah Lynch

Bonds That Change

Dad or mom comes home, once again. He or she has had four deployments. The kids and pets are growing and changing while their parents are away. Now they are older and they may have lost touch with their mom or dad. A lot military homes struggle with this aspect. Essentially, they are all getting to know a stranger who has been in and out of their lives. Even infants can be fearful when they are first introduced to the redeployed parent, especially if it is for the first time. The family dog can also have a tough time “meeting” mom or dad again after not seeing them for a year or more. Pets and children need help reconnecting after deployments too.

„Even infants and toddlers can have difficulties adjusting to a new move and a deployment.‰ - Dr. Delano, clinical director, Child and Family Assistance Center

Transitions in life come with setbacks. These can create stress that quickly overwhelm the parents, children and animals in the home. When one (or more) family members become overwhelmed, the perfect storm is brewing. Being overwhelmed can lead to inattention in certain aspects of the family’s lives – and it often is manifested in how the relationship between pets and children is managed. As consultants, we see the lack of fully


awake adult supervision in its dangerous effects all too often. And sadly, unless we are able to calm the storm, everyone ends up suffering in the long run. Being aware of the many conditions that create stress in the home is imperative. Once Military families face a host we are aware of of stressors - departing for deployment being just them, we can one of them better recognize the multitude of “stress currents” below the surface. Becoming aware of these unique challenges allows us to provide professional support and compassionate guidance in home consultations with our military families. n This is Part One of a two-part feature


Military Child Education Coalition: Military-Connected Students and Public School Attendance Policies. Retrieved from www Amy Martin owns and solely operates Conscious Companion®,, serves on the board of directors of the Cape Fear Parrot Sanctuary, and is a member of the advisory team for Family Paws Parent Education, When she is not consulting, writing, or educating the public through workshops, she teaches Wetland Ecology (B-WET) in the field for Prince William County Middle Schools, and is a Make-A-Wish granter for the Mid- Atlantic Chapter.

Advertise Your Business Here! BARKS from the Guild is a 60+ page trade publication available to Pet Professional Guild members, supporters and the general public online. If you would like to reach your target audience then BARKS from the Guild is the perfect vehicle to achieve that goal.

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Lie to Me: Self-Deception and Dog Behavior

Angelica Steinker explains how self-deception - both the owner’s and the consultant’s –


can impede training

© Can Stock Photo/Virgonira

e all do it. It is part of being human. It is part of life. It client to accept the facts while advocating is part of love. We do it every day. Part of it is for the dog by encouraging management normal but it can also be destructive. I am with an additional backup safety plan at all talking about self-deception, the most problemtimes. Encourage the involvement of a vetatic of all lies. erinary behaviorist. Encourage the When our dog and beloved family consistent implementation of behavior member bites the neighbor it is normal to modification. Excellent consultants think it was the neighbor’s fault, because shine a light on the truth and support our dog is a good dog. That may be their clients in coming to terms with true, but the unwillingness to conreality. front the seriousness of the fact that Another form of self-deception is our dog has bitten a person can be “magical” thinking. Magical thinking is dangerous. It is painful to be honest with the process by which we not only beourselves. It takes courage to face reality lieve our thoughts but also believe our and many times we will color the truth. wishes will come true. It is believing This usually involves denial, blame and that if you wish it enough it will happen. other forms of self-deception. For instance, you might believe that if you An owner’s self-deception can be wish your severely dog-reactive dog a dog’s biggest problem. Denial of a would not put a wound requiring 20 dog’s reactivity issues may place a stitches in another dog, it will not happen. dog in a position for which he is not Magic is not real but stitches and emotional prepared, leading to a bite. The same scars are. Setting a dog up for denial sets the dog up for failure A simple example of magical thinking in training is success is a key which, tragically, may lead to irresomething we have all done. We give a dog a cue, the component in effective training versible consequences. Human thinkdog fails to perform and so we give the cue again ing is a tricky thing. Most of us tend without making any environmental changes to set the dog © Can Stock Photo/lisafx to believe our thoughts. This is the up for success. Training is about repetition and repeating failure is first problem. Just because we think it does not make it true. This poor training. Doing the same thing but expecting a different is why critical thinking is so valued and why the scientific outcome is magical thinking. method, while annoyingly slow, is the best thing we have to find Trainers and clients struggle with this concept. Many owners truth. Our self-deception protects us from truth which is harsh are misinformed and think that exposing their dog-reactive dog and brutal. The risk of going along with self-de- Owners and trainers need to ception, however, is huge for dogs. Professionals be aware that when trying to their dog, they run must work hard to choose the truth about who socialize the very real risk of flooding and what our dogs are, and we need to lovingly lead clients to this truth also. This is where awareness can shine a light on the darkness of self-deception. With awareness we become empowered to learn, to grow and to be the best version of ourselves. Once we tackle our own self-deception we can begin to help our clients. Of course, it is often true that a dog is a loving family pet, but if he bites a stranger so hard that it breaks her arm, then there is a problem. Even if it is “just” a hairline fracture this still indicates a considerable lack of bite inhibition. The behavior consultant should employ gentle persistence to encourage the 56

BARKS from the Guild/September 2015

© Can Stock Photo/damedeeso

to other dogs will socialize her: that somehow this exposure will resolve the dog reactivity. Most exposure training is flooding and many times it will cause the opposite of what was intended. The confused owner will continue the so-called socialization while the dog’s reactivity becomes further conditioned and likely worse. As trainers, we are prone to our own magical thinking: thinking that we are excellent trainers is an example. This belief does not leave room for growth. A more enlightened way of thinking is to consider how we learn from every dog and client we work with because every dog, client and situation is different. I have trained full time for 16 years and it seems to me that the trainers that do not keep learning are the ones who think they already know it all. This approach also creates a chasm between the trainer and the client, one that the client is bound to perceive as overwhelming and unattainable. The trainer’s magical thinking regarding his superiority closes the door on learning details and nuances of our art. Ultimately it closes the door on communicating with the client. Leonardo Da Vinci was a master. If you examine his journals it is evident how obsessed he was with learning. The master was the eternal student. It was only through Da Vinci’s humility that he became the master that he was. Let us all, as trainers, find humility with every client, in every training moment, so that we can strive to be the best. Thinking of yourself as the best trainer will choke off your


growth and close the door on the many things that you can learn from others. A very experienced, masterful trainer told me he attended a seminar and the presenter looked like she was 20 years old. He said he immediately thought that she would have little to teach him. It turned out that she was a neurobiologist and that my friend, the master, learned some information that he considers some of the most useful he has learned in his entire life. It is easy to see self-deception in others, but the real skill is when we decide to enter self-awareness and be honest with the most important person in our lives: ourselves. It is with honesty that we can begin the life-long process of truly mastering our art. n Cognizant behavior consulting (CBC) is an approach that provides behavior consultants and their clients with guidelines that create boundaries and establish ethics. CBC deals directly with the emotional components of behavior consulting. It focuses on the needs of both the client and the dog in order to improve their emotional states.This column will present a different component of CBC in each issue. Angelica Steinker PCBC-A owns and operates Courteous Canine, Inc. DogSmith of Tampa, www.courteouscanine .com/Florida, a full service pet service business and dog school specializing in aggression and dog sports. She is the national director of training for DogSmith Services,, and co-founder of DogNostics Career College, www

PPG World Service Radio Show

f the best o Bringing stry to chat, du the pet in and share! chuckle

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

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How to Channel Sales-Related Anxiety

typical sales process which lead many a distinguished pet professional to engage in avoidance behavior

often wonder if a column As pet professionals, if we define selling about sales, as incredibly as persuading, we important as the discipline practice the sales process multiple of selling is to the health and times each day staying power of your business, might be the equivalent of trying to motivate people to read a column entitled, Your Proctologist Is Your Friend. My guess is that there is a lot of sales-related anxiety/fear behind the lack of interest in this subject. With an eye toward helping trainers hurdle this obstacle, I conducted some research about the most prevalent fears in human beings. Before I get started with the ones that apply to the sales process, here are some that jumped out at me. Hippopotomonstrosesquippedaliophobia – fear of long words. No kidding. A word as long as the line at the motor vehicle bureau is used to label the fear of long words. Globophobia – the fear of balloons. Koumpounophobia - the fear of buttons. Omphalophobia - the fear of belly buttons. Phobophobia - the fear of everything. But the fears that most caught my attention were those that I refer to as sales-related fears (WillieLomanphobia?). They are: Anthropophobia - the fear of people. Telephonophobia – the fear of the telephone. Socialphobia - fear of being evaluated poorly by others/the fear of rejection. Achievemephobia - the fear of success. Atychiphobia - fear of failure. Xenophobia - the fear of strangers or the unknown. With all those sales-related fears at play, it is a wonder anyone has ever been able to conduct a sales call. To one degree or another, all of the above fears can be experienced during the sales process. For the purpose of this column, I would like to address how sales-related fears can lead to sales avoidance behaviors, which in turn, can lead to your potentially great dog training business becoming a hobby. On the other hand, properly channeled and managed sales-related fears can lead to great success. Fears exist in all of us. Fear can be a good thing. For all living beings, fear holds adaptive significance. It is fear that says, “Hey, maybe it’s not such a great idea to toss this Frisbee to that griz58

BARKS from the Guild/September 2015

zly bear.” Fear is an emotional response to a real or perceived threat. Fears are common and are often normal reactions to objects or events. Fears become an issue when they prevent us from doing what we need to do or when we spend an inordinate amount of time and energy engaging in avoidance behaviors. When the anxiety a stimulus produces is so strong that it interferes with quality of life and our ability to function in a productive manner, then it becomes problematic. Often, avoidance behaviors can be very subtle and difficult to detect. Let’s use fear of sales-related rejection as an example. Unlike the response one might see from a person who is snake phobic (appropriately screaming, running and relocating to a home on Mars), fear of sales-related rejection can be much more subtle. In fact, it can actually be masked in what appear to be positive behaviors which are utilized to rationalize the avoidance behaviors. In my years 20+ years as a sales consultant, I have observed salespeople engaging in some incredibly creative sales avoidance behaviors, often masquerading as positive actions. Similarly, in my sales consulting business, I frequently encounter sales avoidance behaviors practiced by trainers who contact me. As noted above, these behaviors are sometimes rationalized as being positive. It is not unusual for sales averse trainers to invest dollar after dollar into their websites hoping that as a result, the website will sell their services, allowing them to avoid direct selling. While I am not minimizing the importance of a website by any stretch, a website is not a salesperson. Websites attract prospective clients - selling converts them into customers. Thinking one’s website is going to replace person-to-person selling is like panning for gold with a Hula Hoop. I have also coached trainers who have spent substantial coinage on brochures, new logos, business cards and something © Can Stock Photo/ewastudio


John Visconti investigates the various fears and phobias inherently present in the

called “branding.” I commonly coach trainers who post pricing on their websites and others who, as a rule, sell single-session consultations – both practices are frequently linked to sales avoidance behaviors. And I coach trainers who have done a great job of selling themselves the belief that they cannot be effective salespeople. The math there is simple. “If I cannot sell, then why bother to try?” It is the ultimate avoidance behavior and sadly, it is based in a belief that couldn’t be further from the truth. As noted earlier, it is all a matter of degree. If the above behaviors are practiced to the exclusion of proactive selling, then likely they are avoidance behaviors which are limiting your ability to succeed. Of equal importance, they are also restricting your chances to help dogs and their families.

What Next?

To begin with, it is important to point out that no salesperson has ever died by making a telephone sales call. In fact, getting in and out of your bathtub is more dangerous. By the way, oikophobia is the closest phobia I could find for fear of bathtubs. It is a fear of the contents in your home. Normalize Your Anxiety We often normalize canine behaviors for owners by pointing out that the actions they find troublesome are in fact, just a dog being a normal dog. We can practice the same normalizing for ourselves regarding sales-related anxiety. Here is the big secret. I have been selling for 25 years and, to one degree or another, I still experience anxiety when making a sales call. Convincing a total stranger to spend their money on my services is not an easy or comfortable thing to do and it is important to simply accept this fact. Accepting that sales-related anxiety is normal, will actually help to decrease it. Another aspect of normalization is to embrace the fact that we engage in selling every day. If we define selling as persuading, we practice the sales process multiple times each day. Have you ever been involved in a Facebook debate about training methodology? Have you ever tried to convince a spouse, significant other or friend to go to a restaurant that you like? Have you ever tried to explain to the police officer who pulled you over that there was a perfectly good reason you were driving at 55mph on the sidewalk? In each one of those examples, you are selling. Nothing could be more normal than selling. In fact, Daniel Pink wrote a book Telephonophobia is a common about this subsales-related fear, yet getting ject entitled, To in and out of the bathtub is inherently more “dangerous” Sell is Human


and let us not forget this quote from Robert Louis Stevenson: “Everyone lives by selling something.”

Channel Your Anxiety Notice I did not suggest you should try to “eliminate” your anxiety. If you spend your time attempting to eradicate sales-related anxiety, you are going to fail. A moderate level of sales-related anxiety is absolutely normal and dare I say, essential to a successful outcome. A number of studies have been conducted demonstrating that mild-to-moderate levels of anxiety help to improve our performance. In June 2012, the Wall Street Journal published an article entitled: Anxiety Can Bring Out the Best - Researchers Prescribe Just Enough Stress to Ace Life’s Tests;Too Little Is Lazy. Prepare for Your Sales Activities Preparation is the only part of the sales process that you can completely control. Preparation is not all that exciting but the results sure are.Yet so many trainers tend to “wing it” when selling their services. Do you have a structured sales presentation? Have you identified five points that differentiate your business from others? Have you incorporated these points into your sales presentation? Have you practiced your presentation and, perish the thought, recorded yourself doing so? Do you have a few standard questions you ask prospective clients in order to engage them emotionally? Have you read my book, Fetch More Dollars for Your Dog Training Business? Being prepared helps to reduce anxiety. Being prepared is critical to the success of your business. As I often say, be prepared to fail if you fail to prepare. Embrace Your Value Building self-esteem by embracing the value of the services you provide can reduce and counter the negative effects of anxiety. The more you believe in your product, the less anxiety you will feel when selling your services. It is important to remember that you are not selling obedience cues, you are selling quality of life for both dog and family – you are offering an invaluable product. Focus on Helping, Not Selling Finally, this is foundational to effective, force-free selling. Forget about the sale. Forget about the money associated with the sale. Focus on helping people. As noted by the great sales consultant, Zig Ziglar, “You can have everything in life you want if you’ll just help enough other people get what they want.” You will be amazed to find that the © Can Stock Photo/vitalytitov more time you spend BARKS from the Guild/September 2015


SALES © Can Stock Photo/paradoxfx

pack leadership and seeing their dog as stubborn, to erroneous beliefs about certain breeds and dogs wanting to “please” us, we are continually asking owners to change their mindsets. Should we expect more of our clients than we expect of ourselves? It might be time to change how you view the sales process. Certainly it cannot hurt to simply consider a different perspective. Until the next column, remember, you cannot help owners and their dogs until you gain them as clients so, happy selling! n

References Sales-related fears can lead to sales avoidance behaviors

helping, the less you will have to spend “selling.”

Without Change, Progress Is an Impossibility

All of this brings us to the last fear I would like to discuss, the fear of change, aka metathesiophobia. Without a willingness to change, your proverbial sales vehicle is stuck in the mud with spinning tires. Often certainty is more comfortable than uncertainty. That said, I have always felt that it takes an enormous amount of energy to stand in one place. Take a moment to consider how many dog owners you have asked to change their perceptions. From topics like dominance,


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


BARKS from the Guild/September 2015

Beck, M. (2012). Anxiety Can Bring Out the Best - Researchers Prescribe Just Enough Stress to Ace Life’s Tests; Too Little Is Lazy. Wall Street Journal. Retrieved from /articles/SB10001424052702303836404577474451463041994 Pink, D. (2013). To Sell is Human. New York, NY: Riverhead Books. Ziglar, Z. (2004). Secrets of Closing the Sale. Ada, MI: Revell. John D.Visconti CPDT-KA is the owner of Fetch More Dollars,, sales consulting for dog trainers, Dog Trainer ConneXion, www.dogtrainerconnexion .com, business management software and Rising Star Dog Training, He has recently published his first book: Fetch More Dollars for Your Dog Training Business, a coaching guide to force free selling.


We invite our members to get involved and contribute their unique skills to our webinar program! If you would like to host a webinar for your fellow companion animal trainers and behavior professionals, submit your ideas to: /PresentaPPGmemberWebinar.

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

No Time Like the Present



In the ongoing series of PPG member profiles, this month BARKS

features Elsie English, a retired trainer who now works with a foster organization specializing in “difficult� dogs

ollowing her retirement, Elsie English decided not to sit back and take it easy. Instead, she now devotes her time to a local foster organization and helps train dogs with behavior problems, with a view to keeping them alive and getting them into forever homes.

Elsie English puts her retirement time to good use, helping difficult dogs get new homes and stay in them

Q:Tell us a little bit about your background:

A: My training background has been in clicker and lure reward training. I completed course one of Gail Fisher's All Dogs Academy Instructor School 2010 and two courses at Wolf Park Institute of Ethology with Dr. Ray Coppinger and Ken McCort. I have also attended a Posidog Canine Learning Center workshop, a Pia Silvani Adoption Option seminar and the Clicker Expo, amongst others. Health issues stopped my training program so I currently work with a foster based organization, Operation Pets Alive, which fosters difficult dogs or dogs with problem behaviors, and helping their foster parents. Q: Why did you become a dog trainer or pet care provider?

A: In 2008, I adopted an adult intact male Canaan dog from a relative. Although very sweet with me, Koda was very people and dog aggressive. I knew I had to be educated in training him or he might have to be euthanized. Thanks to a wonderful trainer, Cinda Bishop, who helped me train Koda and learn about forcefree training. Q: Are you a crossover trainer or have you always been a force-free trainer?

A: I started my training at the age of 64. I had really never had an opportunity to work with or own dogs prior to that.

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

A: The area of Texas that I live in is full of trainers who rely on choker chains, prong collars, shock collars, etc. I am thrilled to be able to show dog owners another way to train. Obviously, one does not have to hurt any dog/animal to train him/her and this is the message I work on spreading. Q: What awards or competition placements have you and your dog(s) achieved using force-free methods?

A: We have not achieved any formal awards as we do not enter

any competitions. The greatest achievement is my wonderful helper dog, Spirit, a nine-year-old Siberian husky. He repeatedly gives shy fearful dogs support as they learn to become good companion dogs. He is also calm and non-reactive in the presence of reactive dogs. I assist with a "reactive dog" class on Saturdays at K9 Heeler Training Center (a force-free training center).

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

A: I am a new member. I look forward to taking advantage of the resources at PPG. Q: Who has most influenced your career and how?

A: Gail Fisher has influenced my learning process, along with one of her trainers, Wendy Bergeron. I am retired and use my training skills to help neighbors, Operations Pets Alive foster homes, and to personally work with foster dogs. Q: What reward do you get out of a day's training?

A: My greatest reward now is when one of my foster dogs gets and stays adopted! When it is a local adoption I make several home visits and enjoy showing new owners how to work with BARKS from the Guild/September 2015



their own dogs. I am always thrilled to receive emails from my out-of-state adopters thanking me for doing such a good job of training their new dog. Q: What are some of your favorite positive reinforcement techniques for most commonly encountered client-dog problems?

A: I prefer clicker training using a variety of rewards... generally treats.

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

A: In 2008, my female (spayed) Canaan dog kept digging large holes around the yard. I finally decided to stop trying to fill them in and let her do her thing. She dug a complete 6 foot tunnel into the ground beside our deck and then made a large circular den off to the left at the end of the tunnel. Everyone was amazed when they saw the pictures. This is typical Canaan behavior but

© Can Stock Photo Inc./websubstance



Q: What is your favorite part of your job?

A: As a retiree, I enjoy the freedom of being able to work with dogs from the county shelter.

Q:What do you consider to be your primary area of expertise?

A: Working with fearful and feral dogs.

Q: What advice would you give to a new trainer starting out? A: Be true to the cause of force-free training! n Operation Pets Alive is located in Montgomery County,Texas To be featured in the BARKS Profile section, complete this form:

Training Tips by PPG Members Reinforcement versus Bribery

he difference between reinforcement and bribery comes up in training sessions all the time, usually when someone has heard or read that they are one and the same thing, and are now afraid that, by using positive reinforcement to train, they are going to “spoil” their pet. There is, however, a difference. It may be small, but it is very important. We have all known pets who will “only do [insert behavior here] if he knows I have a treat!” Well, here is why. Bribery is defined (by as: to promise, offer, or give something, to procure services or gain influence; any persuasion or lure. Reinforcement is defined as: to reward an action or response of (a human or animal) so that it becomes more likely to occur again. Now, let’s pretend I need you to clean my bathroom. Scenario A: I offer a bribe to you as incentive for performing a desired behavior. “See this $100 bill? I’ll give it to you if you clean my bathroom.” Scenario B: I provide reinforcement to you after the behavior is offered. “Oh my gosh, thanks for cleaning my bathroom! Here’s $100 – go buy yourself something nice!” Sweet deal, right? Now, let’s pretend a week goes by, and I ask you to clean my bathroom again. Think about it: what would your reaction be (other than, “why can’t you clean your own bathroom?”) Chances are, if you were in scenario A originally (the bribe) you would be thinking: “Wait a minute … last time she offered me $100 for this job! What gives?!” Reinforcement with food treats in dog training is often confused for bribery

not commonly seen. For her safety we filled it in, fearing it might collapse on her.

BARKS from the Guild/September 2015

If you were in scenario B, you might be thinking: “Oooh, maybe she’ll surprise me with a gift again! Heck yeah I’ll clean your bathroom!” Now, let’s pretend that you are a nice person and do chores for me all the time, and every once in a while I surprise you with $100 for doing a good job. How are you going to feel about doing me a favor? Pretty positive, right? How are you going to feel toward me, as a friend? Now, how would you feel if every time I wanted you to do something, I dangled that $100 in front of you? What kind of quality work would you do for me? How would you feel about me, as a friend? This is what we are doing to our animals when we are training them. If you routinely bribe your pet, they are smart enough to look to see if you have the payment in your hand before performing the desired behavior. (He only comes when he knows I have a treat!) An animal who has been unexpectedly reinforced with something wonderful, however, will be willing to perform all sorts of behaviors to earn his “paycheck” without checking to see if it is in your hand first. He learns to trust that, at some point, it is coming. Bribery is not necessarily a horrible thing; it gets the job done sometimes. It can also help an animal to understand what you want; luring an animal is a form of bribery. But it is not the best option because of the unintended side effects, and so we want to fade it as fast as possible. This is certainly an oversimplified explanation, but hopefully will help to differentiate between the two and ensure owners avoid the pitfalls of “bargaining” with their pets. Bribing an animal to behave is very different than rewarding good behavior. n Joanna Moritz Fur and Feather Works LLC

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