Â© Can Stock Photo/hydromet
BARKS from the Guild Issue 32 / September 2018 BARKSfromtheGuild.com
CANINE Educating Clients in Communication
TRAINING Car Anxiety and Sickness
AVIAN Behavior Change for Self-Mutilation TRAINING Bunny Behavior Best Practices
CONSULTING The Value of Mentorship TRAINING Targeting for Tortoises
BUSINESS Insurance Essentials
Cool for Cats:
Appropriate socialization, training, physical and mental enrichment, and meeting basic needs to reduce behavior issues TM
Published by the Pet Professional Guild
BARKS from the Guild
Published by the Pet Professional Guild 9122 Kenton Road, Wesley Chapel, Florida 33545, USA Tel: +1-844-462-6473 petprofessionalguild.com barksfromtheguild.com facebook.com/BARKSfromtheGuild Editor-in-Chief Susan Nilson email@example.com
Images © Can Stock Photo: canstockphoto.com (unless otherwise credited; uncredited images belong to Pet Professional Guild)
Pet Professional Guild Steering Committee Kelly Fahey, Paula Garber, Kelly Lee, Michelle Martiya, Debra Millikan, Susan Nilson, Louise Stapleton-Frappell, Angelica Steinker, Niki Tudge
BARKS from the Guild Published bi-monthly, BARKS from the Guild presents a collection of valuable business and technical articles as well as reviews and news stories pertinent to our industry. BARKS is the oﬃcial publication of the Pet Professional Guild.
Submissions BARKS encourages the submission of original written materials. Please contact the Editor-in-Chief for contributor guidelines prior to sending manuscripts or see: petprofessionalguild.com/forcefreeindustrypublication Please submit all contributions via our submission form at: petprofessionalguild.com/bftgcontent
Letters to the Editor To comment on an author’s work, or to let PPG know what topics you would like to see more of, contact the Editor-in-Chief via email putting BARKS in the subject line of your email. BARKS reserves the right to edit for length, grammar and clarity.
Subscriptions and Distribution BARKS is a digital publication. Print copies are available by monthly subscription. Register at barksfromtheguild.com/subscribe. Please contact Rebekah King at firstname.lastname@example.org for all subscription and distribution-related enquiries. Advertising Please contact Kelly Fahey at email@example.com to obtain a copy of rates, ad speciﬁcations, format requirements and deadlines. Advertising information is also available at petprofessionalguild.com/advertisinginBARKS
Pet Professional Guild does not endorse or guarantee any products, services or vendors mentioned in BARKS, nor can it be responsible for problems with vendors or their products and services. Pet Professional Guild reserves the right to reject, at its discretion, any advertising.
To be in any way aﬃliated with the Pet Professional Guild, all members must adhere to a strict code of conduct. Pet Professional Guild members understand force-free to mean that no shock, no pain, no choke, no fear, no physical force, and no compulsion-based methods are employed to train or care for a pet.
© All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, including photocopying, recording, or other electronic or mechanical methods, without the prior written permission of the Pet Professional Guild, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical reviews and certain other noncommercial uses permitted by copyright law. For permission requests, please email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
from the editor
ccording to the American Pet Products Association’s 2017-2018 National Pet Owners’ Survey, 68 percent of Americans (or 85 million families) currently share their homes with one or more pets. Cats are the number one pet, because there is often more than one cat living in any one home, but overall, more people have dogs. The actual ﬁgures state that there are 60 million dog-owning families with 90 million dogs at home and 47 million cat-owning families with 94 million cats at home. That’s a lot of pets in a lot of homes and, as a result, professional canine trainers, behavior consultants, and dog-related service providers in general often tend to ﬁnd themselves being asked about cat-related issues, even when they have primarily been retained to assist with the family dog. Our Cover Story this month delves a little deeper into feline behavior, and will be something both cat and dog behavior specialists will ﬁnd helpful. It discusses not only some of the similarities between cats and dogs, including some that are not always widely acknowledged (e.g. you can clicker train cats too), but also how pet professionals can ensure kittens and cats in the family home or shelter environment receive the appropriate socialization, training, physical and mental enrichment, as well as have their basic needs met to reduce the likelihood of behavior issues developing further down the line. Some of the most common reasons cats are relinquished or abandoned are litter box issues, not getting along with other pets, scratching in areas owners don’t want them to, and human-directed aggression. With the right knowledge and understanding, these issues can all be addressed, thus ensuring that cats and their owners stay happy and that fewer cats are relinquished. In addition to cats, our issue this month is something of a multispecies issue, with a whole variety of articles that feature dogs, horses, birds, rabbits and tortoises. Many of those who attended PPG’s Training and Behavior Workshop at Best Friends Animal Society in Kanab, Utah in April remarked upon how inspiring they had found the opportunity to work with species they would not usually encounter in their daily professional life (as well as cats and dogs, species featured in the workshops included chickens, rabbits, pigs, parrots and tortoises), and how helpful it had been for them in terms of honing their mechanical training skills. If you are wondering what tortoises ﬁnd reinforcing, or why rabbits do not like being picked up, then look no further. We have all the answers here in our expanded Training section, as well as features on a behavior change program for a self-mutilating umbrella cockatoo and the presence (or, indeed absence) of hierarchies in equine social structure. Coming back to dogs, communication is a big theme, as always, and we look into the need for better client education to help people better understand and communicate with their dogs and thus help prevent behavior problems – including when dogs are deaf, blind, or both deaf and blind. We also feature a protocol to combat canine car sickness and anxiety, a commonly encountered issue, based on the power of associative learning. The issue of standards, or sometimes a lack thereof, is an ever present issue for all who live and/or work with animals and we again look into the lack of industry regulation and the need for better education in the ﬁrst of a four-part series. We also have an extended Business and Consulting section this month, featuring the all-important topics of mentorship, workers’ compensation insurance, and how to ensure your individual training sessions with clients are as eﬀective as possible. I would like to take this opportunity to thank our incredible contributors who generously share their knowledge and expertise to make BARKS the publication that it is. If you would like to join them, please do get in touch: email@example.com.
BARKS from the Guild/September 2018
n Susan Nilso
contents 6 10 18 22 26 29 32 36 39 42 44 48 52 56 58 60 62
An update of all the latest developments at PPG, plus upcoming podcasts, webinars and workshops
Tabitha Kucera discusses how pet professionals can ensure kittens and cats receive appropriate socialization, training, physical and mental enrichment and have their basic needs met in order to reduce behavior issues
A S HIFT
Anna Bradley discusses the importance of educating clients in body language, canine communication and enrichment as part of preventing behavior problems
C ANINE C AR ANXIETY
T HE A RT
Lori Nanan discusses the issue of dogs with car sickness and anxiety and sets out a training plan to help improve matters OF
Debbie Bauer talks double merles, and how to help clients with deaf, blind, or deaf and blind dogs connect with and train their pet
WILD F RIENDS
B EST FRIENDS
Vicki Ronchette talks tortoises and the importance of working with different species to improve mechanical skills
T HEIR L EVEL
Emily Cassell explains why rabbits don’t like being picked up and how to help them feel more comfortable with being handled
A L ONG -T ERM S OLUTION
Lara Joseph details her behavior modification plans for an umbrella cockatoo who was screaming and selfmutilating as a result of inappropriate enrichment
E QUINE S OCIAL S TRUCTURE
Kathie Gregory examines the two groups of social organization found in Equidae and debates the presence of dominance and submission
N ON -C ORE VACCINATIONS
Lauri Bowen-Vaccare highlights specific vaccinations usually required so dogs stay healthy at day care or boarding
Frania Shelley-Grielen addresses the lack of regulation in the pet care and services industry, and wonders how standards can be improved
Niki Tudge describes how she breaks down client visits into lessons within sessions to ensure maximum efficacy
A H ELPING H AND
Sheelah Gullion discusses the value of mentorship in the pet industry and invites trainers to weigh in
E XPERTS : O PTIMIZING YOUR WEBSITE
Veronica Boutelle of dog*biz responds to your business and marketing questions
FOR I NJURIES
David Pearsall of Business Insurers of the Carolinas discusses the important issue of workers’ compensation insurance for pet professionals
P ROFILE : H ELPING P EOPLE C ONNECT
Featuring Tracey Prall of Canine Connections Dog Training and Dog Hotel in Walterstone, Hereford, England
B OOK R EVIEW : F ROM
E THOLOGIST ’ S P ERSPECTIVE
Breanna Norris reviews How Dogs Work by Raymond Coppinger and Mark Feinstein
BARKS from the Guild/September 2018
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Shock-Free Coalition Opens First Regional Chapters
he Shock-Free Coalition (shockfree.org), PPG’s international advocacy campaign, has announced its first regional coordinators as Kim Silver (Arizona, USA), Pam Francis-Tuss (California, USA), Eve Salimbene and Joyce Kesling (Florida, USA), Don Hanson (Maine, USA), Rain Jordan (Oregon, USA), Stefania Butkovic (Canada), Rachel Hayball (England, United Kingdom), Claire Staines (Scotland, United Kingdom) and Yvette Potter (Gibraltar). PPG is still taking applications for the role, so if you
would like to become a Shock-Free Coalition coordinator (shockfree.org /Coordinator) to help develop and grow local coalition chapters, please complete the application form (shockfree.org/Coordinator/Apply). These positions will work directly with PPG president, Niki Tudge in coordination with PPG’s legal and public relations partners to begin working on legislation across the globe. You will help build these roles from the grassroots level.
PPG Announces 2018 Scholarship Winners
PG has announced the names of this year's candidates to be awarded under its Education Scholarship Program. Launched in January 2017, the program provides a limited number of scholarships for PPG members to further their education in force-free training, behavior consulting and/or pet care oﬀered by organizations that support PPG's Guiding Principles and goals, and are approved educational providers to PPG. This year's recipients, Mary Thompson and Emily Tronetti, have been notiﬁed of their success and are set to embark on their education in the next six months. The successful candidates have been awarded as follows: Thompson, based in Elk Grove Village, Illinois, will study at the Peaceable Paws Academy in Fairplay, Maryland while Tronetti, of Bellevue, Washington, will study at The Academy for Dog Trainers in Emeryville, California. "Our inaugural year of distributing awards through our Education Scholarship Program began in great style with some outstanding candidates, and we are thrilled to have been able to maintain that same high standard again this year," said PPG president Niki Tudge. "Again, like last year, it was not an easy task to make the ﬁnal selections from the extremely high caliber of candidates that applied, and it took a great deal
Your Insurance Questions Needed! hether you are a trainer, groomer, behavior consultant, day care attendant, or work anywhere else in the pet industry, professional insurance is an essential component of your business plan. BARKS will be featuring an interview with David Pearsall of PPG corporate partner Business Insurers of the Carolinas (business-insurers.com/pet-insurance) and is looking for your questions on all things insurance. All questions welcomed! Please email your questions to BARKS editor Susan Nilson (firstname.lastname@example.org) with “Insurance” in the subject line. 6
BARKS from the Guild/September 2018
of deliberation on the part of our scholarship committee, chaired by PPG steering committee and board member Debra Millikan, to objectively review each applicant. "Because the pet industry is currently unregulated, it remains a core part of PPG's mission that our members are able to provide high standard, force-free, science-based behavior consulting, training and pet care services to the pet owning public via their knowledge and skill set. Education is an essential part of this mission and by helping our scholarship recipients achieve their educational goals at such quality institutions as Peaceable Paws and The Academy for Dog Trainers, we can ensure they remain up-to-date with current research in the ﬁelds of animal behavior and training, and thus serve as an invaluable resource to clients and their pets. At the same time, PPG members all over the world continue to work as ambassadors and practitioners of the forcefree message as we collectively work towards a world free of unnecessary, outdated, aversive training methods or equipment and a better, kinder world for pets." More information about PPG's Education Scholarship Program and details of how to apply: petprofessionalguild.com/Scholarship-Program.
New Webinar Search Feature
PG now has a page on its website that allows you to search on Webinars by Presenter (petprofessionalguild.com/Webinars-by-presenter). Click on the Webinars and Workshops (petprofessionalguild.com/educational-resources) tab on the Home Page (petprofessionalguild.com) to find the tab, and simply browse your favorite presenter’s offerings. Also, as a presenter, you can now link your own website to your webinar page to promote them to your followers.
PPG Names June Project Trade Ambassador
ongratulations to Erika Gonzalez of From Dusk Till Dog, LLC (fromdusktilldog.com) in New Jersey, USA for collecting six choke collars, four prong collars and one shock collar and is Project Trade Ambassador for June 2018. Congratulations too to Daniel Antolec of Happy Buddha Dog Training (happybuddhadogtraining.com) in Wisconsin, USA who collected two prong collars and one shock collar, Breanna Norris of Canine Insights (canineinsightsllc.com) in Maine, USA who collected four choke collars and two prong collars, and to Anastasia Tsoulia of Hug4Pets & Hug4Dogs (hug4pets.com) in Thessaloniki, Greece for collecting six prong collars.
(Top row, left to right): Aversive gear collected by Erika Gonzalez, Breanna Norris and Daniel Antolec and (center and bottom rows) Anastasia Tsoulia
BARKS BARKS from the Guild blog
Project Trade (projecttrade.org) is an opt-in program for PPG members that has been designed to create incentives for pet owners to seek professionals who will exchange aversive training and pet care equipment for alternative, more appropriate tools, training, and educational support.
New Links for BARKS Podcasts, BARKS Blog and Blog Subscriptions ARKS is slowly rolling out its new, all-encompassing media platform (barksfromtheguild.com) and the BARKS Blog and BARKS Podcasts (both upcoming and past podcasts) are already available on the new site. Please take a moment to renew your subscription for the Blog (barksfromtheguild.com/subscribe) to make sure you donâ€™t miss any new posts!
BARKS from the Guild/September 2018
Canine Aggression and Bite Prevention Seminar, Portland, Oregon 2019
PG and co-host Doggone Safe (doggonesafe.com) are taking registrations for their Canine Aggression Safety and Education Seminar (petprofessionalguild.com/2019-Portland) taking place at the Crowne Plaza hotel in Portland, Oregon on April 26-28, 2019. Attendees will have access to all-day general sessions supported by an afternoon feline specialty track. Presentation sessions include: • The neuroscience of aggression. • Functionally analyzing aggression. • Behavior modification standard operating procedures. • Resource guarding. • Help and insights on managing clients through canine aggression. • Learn about dog bite safety. • Liability concerns and issues. • Bite facts and fiction. • How to implement and market effective dog bite safety pro-
grams. • Speciality feline track featuring multiple topics related to the various types of feline aggression. Presenters include Dr. Lisa Radosta, Dr. Nathan Hall, Dr. Ilana Reisner, Dr. Lynn Honeckman, Chirag Patel, Judy Luther, Pat Miller, David Pearsall, Niki Tudge, Paula Garber, Francine Miller, Tabitha Kucera, and Beth Adelman. Key points to note: • General sessions all day every day. • Feline specialty track every afternoon. • April 25 - Chat, Chuckle & Learn private dinner hosted by Niki Tudge with guest speaker Dr. Lisa Radosta. • April 27 - Gala Dinner with a presentation by Dr. Ilana Reisner Special payment packages are available that include your entrance fee, accommodation, meals and evening events. (For more details, see ad on back cover).
Force-Free Apparel Is Back!
PPG Hosts Inaugural Australia Summit in Sydney
how your support for the Shock-Free Coalition (shockfree.org) by wearing one of these cool Shock-Free Pledge T-shirts! Visit the PPG Apparel Store (teespring.com/take-the-pledge-tshirt?t#pid=2&cid=2122 &sid=front) and make your order now! You can also help advocate for force-free training and pet care by wearing one of these cool force-free T-shirts, sweatshirts or hoodies while you are out! Place your order here: ow.ly/Kl0G30l1Be7.
BARKS BARKS from from thethe Guild/September Guild/January 2018
PG marked another milestone at the end of July by hosting its ﬁrst ever Australian summit at the Bankstown Sports Center in Sydney. PPG Australia president Barbara Hodel delivered the opening address and welcomed both attendees and a number of key international speakers, including globally recognized canine behavior expert and PPGBI special counsel member Chirag Patel, guide dog trainer Michele Pouliot, and applied animal behaviorist Kathy Sdao, who are based in the United Kingdom (Patel) and United States (Sdao and Pouliot). They were joined by a select group of Australian pet behavior, pet care and training specialists, including Dr. Kat Gregory, Louise Ginman, Louise Newman, Alexis Davison, Laura Ryder, in what was a mix of lectures and applied behavior analysis workshops. We’ll have a full report in our November issue but here’s a sneak preview with pictures (below, left) showing Hodel (right) kicking oﬀ proceedings by introducing the ﬁrst general session presenter, Sdao; and (below, right) presenters (left to right) Patel, Sdao and Pouliot at registration.
BARKS Podcasts: Schedule
news Recent Podcasts:
June 20, 2018 Guests: Sam Redmond, and Pam and Miranda Mahar. Topics: Sam Redmond on the rise of the wolfdog: what we are likely to see in our professional practices and what we can expect from these dogs; Pam and Miranda Mahar of PPG Corporate Partners 4 Legs 4 Pets (see ad on p.63) showcase the company’s USA-made indoor and outdoor cots for pets: bit.ly/2LWNUVh.
Tuesday, October 2, 2018 - 3 p.m. EST Guest: Jane Bowers. Topic: Assessing and Interpreting Dog Behaviour, a course for law enforcement personnel and others who meet unfamiliar dogs in the course of their duties. Register to listen live: attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/1140693125320611075
July 10, 2018 Guest: Dr. Lynn Bahr. Topics: The issue of pain, how well cats can hide it, and the impact chronic pain can have on behavior. She also talked about the long-term physical and behavioral eﬀects of declawing cats, a procedure that is banned in over 20 countries but is still widely practiced in the United States: vimeo.com/279343417
July 19, 2018: “Let's Opinionate!” Veronica Boutelle and Gina Phairas of PPG corporate partner dog*biz (see ad on p.2) give expert tips on how to successfully grow your business: bit.ly/2uTU8yq. Note: schedule is correct at time of going to press but is subject to change
Earn Your CEUs via PPG’s Webinars, Workshops and Educational Summits! Webinars
Understanding Animal Welfare: The Five Freedoms to the Five Domains and Beyond with Frania Shelley-Grielen Thursday, September 20, 2018 - 1:30 p.m. (EDT) petprofessionalguild.com/event-2940490
Sugar, Serotonin and Schmackos: Raw Food and Canine Behaviour with Dr. Nick Thompson Wednesday, September 26, 2018 - 1 p.m. (EDT) petprofessionalguild.com/event-2991296
Service Dog Owner Training -- Is this the path for you? With Sharon Wachsler Monday, October 29, 2018 - 1 p.m. (EDT) petprofessionalguild.com/event-2983619 Is Loose Lead Walking a Self-Control Behavior? - Presented by Sian Ryan Tuesday, November 13, 2018 - 1 p.m. (EST) petprofessionalguild.com/event-2892968
PPG Canine Aggression and Safety Education Seminar 2019 (Portland, Oregon) (see also ad on back cover) Friday, April 26, 2019 - Time TBC Sunday, April 28, 2019 - Time TBC petprofessionalguild.com/2019-Portland
PPG Florida Members - A Full Day of Networking, Sessions and Competitions with Niki Tudge, Angelica Steinker and Dr. Lynn Honeckman (Tampa, Florida) Sunday, September 16, 2018 - 9 a.m. (EDT) petprofessionalguild.com/event-2858895 Let's Coach Scent Work! with Robert Hewings (Tampa, Florida) (see also ad on p. 21) Saturday, October 20, 2018 - 9 a.m. (EDT) Sunday, October 21, 2018 - 4 p.m. (EDT) petprofessionalguild.com/event-2822576
The Walk This Way Instructor Certiﬁcation Workshop with Louise Stapleton-Frappell and Niki Tudge (Tampa, Florida) (see also ad on p. 24) Monday, October 22, 2018 - 9 a.m. (EDT) Tuesday, October 23, 2018 - 4 p.m. (EDT) petprofessionalguild.com/event-2822678
Successfully Train and Compete in The Show Ring - Learn The Knowledge and Skills You Need to Compete or Teach a Professional Curriculum with Vicki Ronchette, supported by Niki Tudge (Tampa, Florida) (see also ad on p.46) Saturday, September 21, 2019 - 9 a.m. (EDT) Sunday, September 22, 2019 - 4 p.m. (EDT) petprofessionalguild.com/event-2688824
Note: All dates and times are correct at time of going to press but are subject to change. Please check website for an updated list of all live webinars, as well as discounted and on-demand webinars: petprofessionalguild.com/educational-resources BARKS from the Guild/September 2018
Cool for Cats
Tabitha Kucera discusses some of the similarities between cats and dogs, and how pet
professionals can ensure that kittens and cats receive the appropriate socialization,
training, physical and mental enrichment as well as have their basic needs met
to reduce the likelihood of behavior issues developing
Photo © Tabitha Kucera
Cats search for treats in a ball pen; according to Dr. Lisa Radosta, in terms of behavior, virtually “every disorder in cats will respond to some degree to environmental enrichment.”
t may seem like I am stating the obvious if I start this article by stating that a cat is not a dog! Having said that, however, in many ways cats have similar needs to dogs, and are able to be as affectionate and engaged as our canine companions. Just like dogs, too, they have specific needs related to socialization, enrichment, and training and it is important for these needs to be met so they can thrive in our homes. In actual fact, keeping cats happy in their homes and with new experiences can be just as simple and rewarding as working with dogs. In this article, then, I want to share with you some the cat “basics,” so you can help your clients with their cats as well as their dogs. 10
BARKS from the Guild/September 2018
We are all familiar with puppy socialization, but do not hear about kitten socialization anywhere near as often. In fact, however, it is as important for kittens to be properly socialized and trained as it is for puppies. The effects of poor socialization can result in cats who hide from visitors, fear other pets, adapt slowly to new environments, and they can also be fearful and aggressive with handling at veterinary visits. These cats are more likely to become stressed and/or fearful and start urinating out of the litter box, which can result in the human-animal bond being damaged and owners then relinquishing their cats. However, well-socialized kittens who have received positive experi-
ences around many different people, unfamiliar kittens, environments, and handling procedures are more likely to be outgoing, social, and have better coping skills, which will result in stronger human-animal bonds and fewer behavioral issues. These kittens are also more likely to receive annual veterinary care since the stress involved with the carrier, new places, travel, and handling often subconsciously causes owners to avoid bringing in their cats. Kitten kindergarten is a concept created by Dr. Kersti Seksel, an Australian veterinary behaviorist, to help socialize cats and educate owners about normal feline behavior. Since first creating and sharing kitten kindergarten over 10 years ago, her idea has spread and is now being held at numerous veterinary clinics and humane societies. The classes are “ideally three one-hour sessions over three weeks with a maximum of six kittens and the kittens should be 8-12 weeks of age and no older than 14 weeks at the end of the class.” (Burns, 2017). The key socialization period for kittens is 2-7 weeks of age but can extend up to 14 weeks. This is the period during which they are most receptive and open to learning new things and bonding with other kitties and humans. During this period, they may startle but recover very quickly. In these classes, kittens learn essential developmental and social skills needed to thrive in their environment. Cat owners are taught how to understand their cat’s behavior by learning cat body language, appropriate scratching surfaces, appropriate litter box setup, how to shape behavior using a clicker, and how to raise a confident cat. Kittens learn important behaviors such as targeting, how to happily go into a carrier and how to accept medications and nail trims. Kittens also play and socialize with other kittens and will have opportunities to have positive interactions with dogs, children, and various adults. Ultimately, kitten kindergarten can help save lives. Some of the most common reasons cats are relinquished or abandoned are litter box issues, not getting along with other pets, scratching in areas owners don’t want them to, and human-directed aggression. In kitten socialization classes, kittens and their parents are taught how to prevent these issues and raise happy and healthy cats.
There is a common misconception that cats cannot be trained, and even if it is possible, it is a lot more difficult than training dogs. Both of those statements are inaccurate and can be detrimental if a cat owner believes them. If owners feel that their cat cannot be trained, they may also believe that any behavior problems cannot be resolved. This can result in fatal consequences for cats, including euthanasia and relinquishment. The truth is that many feline behavior problems can be resolved, and cats are easy to train too. They can learn anything, including foundation behaviors (targeting, attention), positive husbandry behaviors (nail trims, brushing, and handling), and fun tricks (roll over, high five). Training can also be very effective in stopping and replacing unwanted behaviors.
Reinforcers: Cats, like any species, have their own motivations and priorities and this should be taken into consideration prior to starting any train-
...well-socialized kittens who have received positive experiences around many different people, unfamiliar kittens, environments, and handling procedures are more likely to be outgoing, social, and have better coping skills, which will result in stronger human animal bonds and fewer behavioral issues. These kittens are also more likely to receive annual veterinary care since the stress involved with the carrier, new places, travel, and handling often subconsciously causes owners to avoid bringing in their cats.
Photo © Tabitha Kucera
Cat-friendly shelving is an ideal way to vary the environment for cats
BARKS from the Guild/September 2018
Some of the most common reasons cats are relinquished or abandoned are litter box issues, not getting along with other pets, scratching in areas owners don’t want them to, and human-directed aggression. In kitten socialization classes, kittens and their parents are taught how to prevent these issues and raise happy and healthy cats. ing. Reinforcers must have value to the learner to be reinforcing, and in many cases, cat owners feel that their cats do not like treats and are unaware of what is high value to their cats, so a great first step is to provide the owner with a list of common reinforcers so that they can find out what is reinforcing to their individual cat(s). I provide my clients with a list of reinforcers that includes food reinforcers from the fridge, pantry, and pet stores along with play and praise reinforcers (e.g. whipped cream, squeezy cheese, freeze-dried treats, and crunchy cat treats).
Using a Clicker: Just like with dogs, the clicker is a great tool to help
communicate with and teach cats new behaviors. A click is a distinct sound that the cat learns and means only one thing, a reward is coming. A click, unlike our voices, sounds the same every time which means the whole family can be involved in the training process, from the children to parents. This is crucial in successful outcomes. In clicker training, the click works as an event marker to indicate the moment in time the desired behavior happens. Once the behavior is learned, the clicker is no longer needed to maintain the behavior. (For further details, see Clicker Training for Cats, BARKS from the Guild, November 2017, pp. 16-23).
Reinforcement: As always, it is important to deliver the reinforcer
(treat) right after the click. Rewards should be given immediately, within three seconds, so that you don't inadvertently reward other behavior that may happen after the desired one. Rewards can be used to train a cat to do a desired behavior or to teach him which behavior is wanted. It is important that rewards are not unintentionally given for undesirable behavior. Ignoring and then redirecting negative behavior is the best way to eliminate that behavior. For example, if a cat is meowing for food and you ignore the cat while meowing, he will likely stop meowing to be fed (Overall, et al., 2005).
Focus on the good: As a
clicker trainer, I focus on the positive behaviors and build upon
those instead of telling an animal and client what not to do. This helps to not only keep training fun for both the teacher and the learner but also creates enthusiastic learners and encourages creativity. When using punishment-based methods (i.e. spraying with water, shocking, yelling, hitting), animals learn to do the minimum possible to stay out of trouble and are afraid to offer new behaviors because they are concerned that will be punished. Positive training methods also accelerate learning since animals can better understand what we are asking of them instead of repeatedly telling them “no.” Imagine if you were trying to teach someone a new skill, how to jump rope for example, and instead of reinforcing behaviors that lead up to jumping rope (walking to the rope, picking it up, jumping with two feet, swinging the arms), you said “no” or poked a person every time they did not perform the full goal behavior of jumping rope. That person is going to become frustrated very quickly and give up – versus the person who receives encouragement and is given direction. Another concern with using punishment-based teaching methods is that they do not teach the correct behavior and tend to stop working in the absence of punishment. This is unlike clicker training, which helps to teach animals behaviors, and once they learn the behavior, it is on cue. There is no need to click, because the animal actually understands the behavior. Often, cats will associate a punishment with the punisher, which will create fear, stress, and uncertainty in the learner and can lead to a damaged human-animal bond. As force-free trainers and behavior professionals, we already know that focusing on the positive and using clicker training works with any animal. It is versatile and can be used for solving behavioral problems, teaching basic manners and very advanced service tasks, is free of any behavioral side effects that punishment-based training creates (aggression, fear, stress), strengthens the human animal bond, and is fun for both the trainer and learner.
Cats are companion animals that benefit from consistent, friendly and predictable social interactions with humans. It is important to note that how a person greets his or her cat or a new cat can affect the cat’s perception and reaction to a person. Every cat is an individual, and based on this, individual preferences do play a part in what greetings they prefer. However, there are greeting specifics that a majority of cats perceive to be safe and friendly. Appropriate introduction to a cat (again, many of these can be applied to dogs or other animals): • Avoid staring, standing or bending over, chasing, reaching out, or forcing contact with a cat as these are all perceived to be threatening to them. • Avoid negative body language, yelling, or speaking loudly. • Speak in calm, quiet tones. • Let the cat
Kittens who have received positive experiences around many different people, unfamiliar kittens, environments, and handling procedures are more likely to be outgoing, social, and have better coping skills as adults
BARKS from the Guild/September 2018
© Can Stock Photo/andreykuzmin
initiate, choose, and control the type of human contact (does the cat enjoy being held, picked up, sitting in laps, pet down their back, etc.?). • Sit or kneel down and turn to the side rather than directly facing the cat to make yourself appear smaller and less threatening. • At a distance (a few feet, increase distance if you do not know the cat, or the cat is showing signs of stress) extend your pointer finger or soft hand (this is the human to cat equivalent to touching noses to simulate a cat hello). Some common signs of stress that would indicate you need to give the cat some space would be ears out to the side or down, tense body, furrowed brow, tail twitching or the tail close to the body, whiskers back, pupils dilated, body crouched or leaning away, and the cat staring at you. • If the cat chooses to approach you, he will smell your hand, and if he rubs on your hand or leans his head into it, then he is communicating that he would like you to pet him. If he sniffs your hand and then moves back, that is him kindly asking to not be petted. • When petting, many cats prefer short strokes on the temples, cheeks, and under the chin. • If the cat ends the interaction, do not pursue or force contact.
If owners feel that their cat cannot be trained, they may also believe that any behavior problems cannot be resolved. This can result in fatal consequences for cats, including euthanasia and relinquishment. The truth is that many feline behavior problems can be resolved, and cats are easy to train too.
Photo © Tabitha Kucera
About About Litter Litter Boxes Boxes
As far as litter boxes are concerned, one size does not fit all, but many As far as litter boxes are concerned, one size does not fit all, but many cats will have their preferences. Below are four basic things to consider cats will have their preferences. Below are four basic things to consider when setting up litter boxes to help prevent accidents and create posiwhen setting up litter boxes to help prevent accidents and create positive associations between cats and their boxes. tive associations between cats and their boxes.
Litter are meticulously clean animals and, justifiLitter box box hygiene: hygiene: Cats Cats are meticulously clean animals and, justifi-
ably, will avoid using a dirty litter box in favor of a cleaner place, even if ably, will avoid using a dirty litter box in favor of a cleaner place, even if that place is a carpet. To prevent this from happening, it is recomthat place is a carpet. To prevent this from happening, it is recommended that the boxes get scooped once to twice daily and cleaned mended that the boxes get scooped once to twice daily and cleaned every one-four weeks with a mild soap and hot water. Avoid strong every one to four weeks with a mild soap and hot water. Avoid strong chemicals like bleach or any ammonia-based products because cats may chemicals like bleach or any ammonia-based products because cats may find the smell aversive, which can cause an aversion to their box. find the smell aversive, which can cause an aversion to their box. Litter box type and size: Size does matter when it comes to litter boxes in that bigger is always better: “Most cats show a definite preference for Litter box type and size: Size does matter when it comes to litter a larger litter box than is typically available to them in homes and that boxes in that bigger is always better: “Most cats show a definite preferother factors such as box cleanliness and location may have a comence for a larger litter box than is typically available to them in homes pounding influence on this choice.” (Guy, Hopson & Vanderstiche, and that other factors such as box cleanliness and location may have a 2014). compounding influence on this choice.” (Guy, Hopson & Vanderstiche, When choosing a box, your cat should be able to comfortably turn 2014). When choosing a box, your cat should be able to1 comfortably the around in the box – ideally the box should be at least 1 ⁄2 times turn around in the box – ideally the box should be at least 11⁄2 times the length of the cat from the nose to the base of the tail. Under the bed length of the cat from the nose to the base of the tail. Under the bed storage containers, 30-gallon storage containers, and cement mixing storage containers, 30-gallon storage containers, and cement mixing tubs are a few appropriate sized alternatives to their small commercial tubs are a few appropriate sized alternatives to their small commercial counterparts. When choosing boxes for small kittens or senior cats, I counterparts. When choosing boxes for small kittens or senior cats, I recommend using low sided boxes or purchasing a storage container recommend using low sided boxes or purchasing a storage container and cutting a low entry so the senior cats cat easily walk in and avoid and cutting a low entry so the senior cats cat easily walk in and avoid lifting their legs high or jumping in, which can be painful. lifting their legs high or jumping in, which can be painful. Many cats are not fond of covered boxes for a variety of reasons. Many cats are not fond of covered boxes for a variety of reasons. The boxes are often too small, and they trap odors and dust inside, The boxes are often too small, and they trap odors and dust inside, which can be very unpleasant for the cats. Also, cats are both predator which can be very unpleasant for the cats. Also, cats are both predator and prey animals. In terms of the latter, asking them to go in a covered and prey animals. In terms of the latter, asking them to go in a covered
Photo © Tabitha Kucera
Photo © Tabitha Kucera
(Top to bottom): A window perch to keep cats occupied; a scratch post doubling as a resting place; vertical space and puzzle toys are all good ways of providing environmental enrichment
BARKS from the Guild/September 2018
Size does matter when it comes to litter boxes in that bigger is always better. When choosing a box, your cat should be able to comfortably turn around in the box – ideally the box should be at least 11⁄2 times the length of the cat from the nose to the base of the tail. Under the bed storage containers, 30-gallon storage containers, and cement mixing tubs are a few appropriate sized alternatives to their small commercial counterparts. box where, from their perspective, they cannot see possible predators and are made to feel vulnerable or exposed to threats, is not ideal. In such cases, a clear litter box can be helpful to make cats feel safer.
Litter box substrate: While litter preferences vary between individual
cats, “in studies, most cats prefer unscented and finely particulate litter material as is typical of the clumping type litters compared with other litter options.” (Neilson, 2004, citing Borchelt, 1991). Indeed, with their sensitive noses, “scented cat litter can be unpleasant for cats.” (Johnson-Bennett, 2018). Cats have “twice as many receptors in the olfactory epithelium (i.e. smell-sensitive cells in their noses) as people do, meaning that cats have a more acute sense of smell than humans. ” (Purves, et al., 2001). This is also a good reason to avoid using litter deodorizers or air fresheners near the litter box. Odor should not be a problem if you are keeping the box clean. Cats also have a natural instinct to bury their waste in order to avoid attracting predators and will look for a soft, loose substrate that is easy to dig into. I recommend sticking with whatever they prefer, and if your cats prefer a specific litter, try not to change it.
Litter box location and number: The golden rule for number of litter
boxes in a house is one box per cat plus one extra. Bear in mind that three boxes right next to each other are considered as one box from a cat’s perspective. The location of litter boxes is key in preventing aversions and accidents. Do not place boxes in the same area as your cat’s food and water. You would not want to eat where you eliminate and neither does your cat. Cats prefer to use their boxes in quiet and private places. When placing litter boxes, avoid high traffic areas and locations where a cat could be cornered or unable to flee (i.e. if the box is in a closet where another cat or dog can block the exit). I frequently see people place litter boxes in laundry rooms, these areas are not ideal. Washers, dryers, furnaces, etc. are loud appliances that turn on randomly, and if a furnace kicks on when the cat is in a box, this can scare them and cause them to associate the litter box with a negative situation. I recommend that cat owners avoid placing boxes in busy areas or where a cat could feel trapped by another cat, a dog, or other people in the house.
Providing for your cat’s mental wellbeing is just as important as providing for their physical wellbeing. Cats have natural behaviors and needs, and they must have opportunities to express those behaviors. An enriched environment should provide various types of scratching surfaces, outlets for predatory and prey behavior, safe places, and should respect all five of your cat’s senses which provides an environment in which an animal has variety, choice, and control over their daily activities. According to Radosta (2018): “Virtually every disorder in cats will respond to some degree to environmental enrichment. That’s right: the kitty who doesn’t want to leave your lap, or the one that bites you when you stop petting, and even (a favorite) the cat that howls through the night, can at least partly improve with proper enrichment.” Here are some examples:
Photo © Tabitha Kucera
Photo © Tabitha Kucera
Photo © Tabitha Kucera
Photo © Tabitha Kucera
An enriched environment should provide various types of scratching surfaces, outlets for predatory and prey behavior, safe places, and should respect all five of a cat’s senses to provide a habitat in which he has variety, choice, and control over his daily activities
BARKS from the Guild/September 2018
Photo © Liz Waynick
Target training: Contrary to popular belief, cats are responsive to training, and it is an ideal way to provide mental stimulation
Food-based enrichment: Food puzzles can help to slow down eating, prevent boredom and obesity, and allow cats to eat more instinctively by allowing them to forage and “hunt” for their food. There are various food dispensing toys for cats that you can purchase, and you can even make your own. I recommend starting with an easier, beginner puzzle and work up based on your individual cat’s preference. A great starter puzzle toy would be an ice cube tray or coffee mug where the cat can use foraging behaviors to easily obtain the food. Along the same lines, one of my favorites is a lunch paper bag. Place a few treats inside the bag, twist the top, cut one to two small to large holes in the bottom of the bag and allow the cats to open and tear apart the bag. Sensory enrichment: Scent signals are an important part of cat com-
munication and exploration. Cats exposed to new odors are more active and exploratory. Catnip, silvervine, cat grasses, safe houseplants (Note: many plants are toxic to cats – see the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals’ Toxic and Non-Toxic Plant List – Cats for more details), toys with owner's scent, and pheromones such as Feliway can all help encourage exploration and play. Placing a small amount of a scent in paper ball toys, boxes, bags, etc. can also provide sensory enrichment. Switching available scents and presenting them randomly can add surprise and delight to the cat's daily exploration. One example of sensory enrichment is placing fleece blankets (touch) on a perch near a window so that your cat can climb up and observe (sight, hearing, smell) birds and squirrels at a strategically placed feeder (The Ohio State University, n.d.).
Playtimes: Exercising his prey drive with interactive play is a crucial
part of a cat’s development and contributes greatly to his quality of life. I recommend using a wand toy such as a feather wand or a mouse on a string and move the toy like the prey it is supposed to represent. Just like us, not all cats love the same things, so try a few wand toys to see what the cat enjoys. Also, providing your cat with toys he can play with on his own is recommended. This can include everything from ping pong balls, motorized toys, and catnip kicker toys, which are great for cats to attack, bunny kick, and snuggle with. Toy rotation is a simple idea that will keep your cat more interested in playing and prevent boredom.
Photo © Tabitha Kucera
Many cats enjoy the scent of catnip, but many plants are toxic for cats so owners should take care to check first if they are safe
(For more about play, see Keeping It Fresh, BARKS from the Guild, July 2015, pp. 44-45).
Environmental enrichment: Provide a variety of vertical spaces and
hiding spaces. More hiding spots and perches will allow your cats to space themselves out as they prefer. Cats enjoy exploring vertical spaces as well as having a high vantage point from which to view the outside world. Window perches, cat trees and cat-friendly shelving are ideal ways to vary your cat’s environment. Incorporate safe hiding areas (e.g. boxes and tunnels) too. I recommend using these throughout the home, but especially in the areas where you tend to spend the most time, since cats like to spend time with their people. Cat shelves are great additions to a cat’s environment, but when placing them be sure to have an entrance and exit ramp. Cats need to scratch, so providing various types of scratching surfaces based on your cat’s preferences is recommended. Your cats may prefer vertical, horizontal, or angled surfaces made of sisal, carpet, wood or cardboard. When purchasing cat scratching posts, they should be steady and should be a minimum of 3 feet high to allow cats to fully extend their body and stretch when scratching. (For more information on scratching, see Scratch Here, Not There, BARKS from the Guild, July 2016, pp.25-26).
When placing litter boxes, avoid high traffic areas and locations where a cat could be cornered or unable to flee (i.e. if the box is in a closet where another cat or dog can block the exit). I frequently see people place litter boxes in laundry rooms, these areas are not ideal. Washers, dryers, furnaces, etc. are loud appliances that turn on randomly and if a furnace kicks on when the cat is in a box, this can scare them and cause them to associate the litter box with a negative situation. BARKS from the Guild/September 2018
Positive training: Another form of enrichment can be clicker training your cat, which I discussed earlier on. Cats are curious and intelligent and clicker training is an ideal way to mentally stimulate your cat and teach him new tricks! Once all these various components are slotted into place, owners
will be setting up the home environment so they meet their cats’ individual physical and mental needs as best they possibly can, thereby enhancing the pet-owner bond and helping to prevent behavior issues arising, while ensuring the optimum welfare and wellbeing for their pets. n
Borchelt, P. (1991, March).Cat elimination behavior problems. The Veterinary Clinics of North America: Small Animal Practice 21 257–264. Available at: bit.ly/2NWXau1 Burns, K. (2017, November 29). Feline development, from kitten kindergarten onward. Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association News. Available at: bit.ly/2L3pkFM Guy, N.C., Hopson, M., & Vanderstiche, R. (2014, March). Litterbox size preference in domestic cats (Felis catus). Journal of Veterinary Behavior: Clinical Applications and Research (9) 2 78-82. Available at: bit.ly/2mwDhxr Johnson-Bennett, P. (2018). Litter Basics. Available at: catbehaviorassociates.com/litter-basics Neilson, J. (2004, November). Feline house soiling: Elimination and marking behaviors. Companion Animal Medicine (19) 4 216–224. Available at: bit.ly/2L8h7Al Overall, K.L, Rodan, I., Beaver, B.V., Carney, H., Crowell-Davis, S., Hird, N, … Wexler-Mitchel, E. (2005). Feline Behavior Guidelines from the American Association of Feline Practitioners. Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association (227) 1 70-84. Available at: scribd.com/document/8745122/Feline-Behavior-Guidelines Purves, D., Augustine, G.J., Fitzpatrick, D., Hall, W. C., LaMantia, A-S., & White, L. E. (2001). Neuroscience (2nd ed.). Sunderland, MA: Sinauer Associates Radosta, L. (2018, January 1). Your Cat Is Bored! Psychology Today. Available at: bit.ly/2JyeK3T The Ohio State University. (n.d.). Basic Indoor Cat Needs. The Indoor Pet Initiative. Available at: bit.ly/2LsqXc8
American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. (2018). Toxic and Non-Toxic Plant List – Cats. Available at: bit.ly/2O0bUs3 Bahr, L. (2018, February 19). Why Every Cat Needs a Place to Hide. BARKS Blog. Available at: bit.ly/2NUePT3 Ehrlich, J. (2015, July). Keeping It Fresh. BARKS from the Guild (13) 4445. Available at: bit.ly/2uMzmzY Fisher, P. (2016, July). Scratch Here, Not There. BARKS from the Guild (19) 25-26. Available at: bit.ly/2ysmmRe Garber, P. & Miller, F. (2017, November). Clicker Training for Cats. BARKS from the Guild (27) 16-23). Available at: bit.ly/2moXtRD Krieger, M. (2017, May 5). Thinking Outside the (Litter) Box. BARKS Blog. Available at: bit.ly/2zZjJeH Mauger, J. (2018, June 6). How Big Should a Cat’s Litter Box Be? BARKS Blog. Available at: bit.ly/2zLw2uK Todd, Z. (2016, April 20). Enrichment Tips for Cats (That Many People Miss). Companion Animal Psychology. Available at: bit.ly/2Ns4aOa Todd, Z. (2017, December 13). How to Make the World Better for Cats. Companion Animal Psychology. Available at: bit.ly/2Nnvtcu
Photo © Tabitha Kucera
Exercising a cat’s prey drive with interactive play is a crucial part of his development and contributes greatly to his quality of life too
BARKS from the Guild/September 2018
Tabitha Kucera is the owner of Chirrups and Chatter cat behavior consulting and training (chirrupsandchatter.com) based in Cleveland, Ohio. She is a certified cat behavior consultant, a registered veterinary technician and is low stress handling and fear free certified. She currently serves as the co-chair of Pet Professional Guild’s Cat Committee, president elect of the Society of Veterinary Behavior technicians, and on the board of The Together Initiative for Ohio’s Community Cats. She also lectures on making veterinary visits less stressful for both clients and patients and feline and canine behavior, and is the behavior advocate for her veterinary hospital, leading the initiative of implementing fear free, performing happy, successful visits, and assisting the veterinarians with behavior cases.
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BARKS from the Guild/September 2018
A Shift in Mindset
Anna Bradley discusses the importance of educating clients in body language, canine
communication and enrichment as an integral part of preventing behavior problems s pet professionals, we often spend a long time – and I most definitely include myself here – working to fix, or at least improve, behavior issues. But shouldn’t we also be thinking about actually preventing them in the first place? Of course, in many instances we don’t have that luxury because dogs that are newly adopted or rehomed may already be well-practiced in certain inappropriate behaviors. Even in these situations, though, we can still take measures to reduce the chances of issues getting worse, or the risk of the dog struggling further. What actually is a so called “problem behavior?” Firstly, if a dog displays any behavior which is suddenly out of character, then it should be investigated by a veterinary professional in order to rule out (or in) clinical factors. That done, we should consider that what a client may consider a behavior issue may simply be “normal” behavior which has become “abnormal” because it is out of context and, therefore, deemed inappropriate. Take, for instance, a border collie snapping at a child’s heels. A client might also class behavior as a “problem” because communication with their dog has broken down and they are having trouble reading their pet. Aggression is a very good example here. There are many reasons that behavioral issues arise, and the interesting thing is that, if we look truly objectively, human intervention (or sometimes the lack of it) can be at the root of the problem in some cases.
In the Genes
The nature vs. nurture issue with respect to specific behavior issues is a contentious one and beyond the scope of this article. Behavioral genetics is a rapidly expanding field and it is clear that traits such as fearfulness and particular repetitive behaviors in specific breeds are heritable. When purchasing or adopting a puppy, it is crucial that you obtain your new family member from a trusted and reliable source. If you are obtaining your pup from a breeder, ensure you view the puppies with the mother in a home environment and assess the temperament of all. Ideally, they should not be unduly shy or nervous. If you are adopting a puppy or adult dog, ensure you choose a reputable rehoming center which can give you assistance when choosing your dog and follow-up care. Human intervention with regards to artificial selection has had a pretty deep influence on specific breed traits. Selective breeding is often thought of in terms of accentuating desirable features. However it can have serious consequences upon the dog’s behavioral development. Houpt (1991), cited in Rooney and Sargan (2009), notes the example of the Hungarian puli, selectively bred for profuse hair covering the eyes, and suggests the possibility of fear aggression resulting from the dog becoming startled due to vision impairment.
...if dogs are punished for displays of growling or biting, they may learn to suppress earlier gestures (which are actually “red flag” and positive signs), and leap straight to snapping next time that uncomfortable situation or event presents itself. 18
BARKS from the Guild/September 2018
© Can Stock Photo/plysiukvv
Owners may be unaware of the signals their dogs project when fearful or uncomfortable in a given situation, or misinterpret them as “dominance” and punish the dog
Leaver and Reimchen (2008), cited in Rooney and Sargan (2009), also suggest that brachycephalic dogs (pugs, boxers, etc.) are less able to use facial expressions, adding that dogs with docked, curled tails or those with droopy or permanently erect ears, raised hackles or dense fur are unable to signal their intentions to other dogs and so have difficulty in social encounters. A tendency toward selection of juvenile characteristics such as dependency, play, leadership etc. has also been seen. This has led to problems such as separation anxiety as dogs become dependent upon humans and unable to cope with social isolation. While we may enjoy our perfectly bred companion, then, there are issues when he/she and our lifestyle conflict. We may be striving for what we perceive to be perfection in our lives, but for the sake of their behavioral welfare, that should not extend to our dogs.
Out and About
I think most owners are aware that inappropriate socialization with a dog’s own and co-habitant species (humans, other dogs, cats, horses, small furries etc.) has a detrimental effect on their behavioral development. Of most consequence in a puppy’s development is the sensitive period (3-14 weeks), a time when puppies begin to exhibit adult behavior and form strong social bonds with humans. To assist my clients, I prepare a positive socialization tick list. This contains a “hit list” of lots of places to visit and people to meet and greet of all different appearances. There are lots of similar resources online (see PPG’s Puppy Training Resources). The whole idea is that puppy is exposed to wide and
If every owner were able to realize when their dog is uncomfortable in a given situation minutes/days/weeks earlier (lip licking/ blinking/gaze avoidance/freezing/turning away etc.) and take steps to avoid it, then the situation would not escalate (or behavioral help could be sought at this stage). varying environmental stimuli so that they become of little consequence in adulthood. Braastad and Bakken (2002) explain that families who continue broad socialization experiences will have a dog who can cope with wide ranging experiences in adulthood. They suggest the consequences of inappropriate socialization being the exhibition of behavioral symptoms of fear and fear aggression towards humans. Certainly inadequate or poor socialization experiences are a common factor in the majority of behavioral cases I see.
Can we prepare more? This is something we just don’t do enough of, in my opinion. Sometimes people become so caught up in the excitement of adopting a new dog or the collection date of a new puppy. When the new family member comes home, it is important to allow him space, quiet and time to transition to his new home. In the case of adopted dogs there is often a “honeymoon” period of calm followed by the development of some teething issues. Allow your new dog time to settle, establish a clear routine and start as you mean to go on. Keep the household quiet and calm and expect that you may have issues (such as toileting mishaps). In the case of puppies, allow them to sleep. I cannot stress this enough! Don’t feel pressure to constantly occupy them. If you have children, remind them of the need to allow puppy quiet time as well as play time. My tip for new puppy owners is to think now about their expectations for their dog as an adult and set their boundaries today, i.e. don’t allow mouthing your fingers, jumping up, etc. “just because it’s cute” at 13 weeks and then abruptly stop it at 7 months when your dog has a full mouth of teeth and is approaching full size.
ceed with punishment. The Ladder of Aggression (Shepherd, 2009) incorporates a good depiction of gestures, from subtle nose licking and blinking to progressive escalation to crouching with tail tucked, growling and eventually biting. Dogs may display such gestures in response to a perceived stressor or threat, in an attempt to repel both. The problem is that owners, having missed (or been unaware of) the earlier, more subtle signs, may only react when they witness top rung of the ladder signals – growling, snarling, snapping, etc. and the dog may then be punished for these displays. Owners may also (mistakenly) believe their dog is behaving in a “dominant” manner when actually he is probably fearful. What is needed, then, is better communication skills and understanding of the more subtle canine gestures amongst both owners and those who work with dogs. If every owner were able to realize when their dog is uncomfortable in a given situation minutes/days/weeks earlier (lip licking/ blinking/gaze avoidance/freezing/turning away, etc.) and take steps to avoid it, then the situation would not escalate (or behavioral help could be sought at this stage). Similarly, if dogs are punished for displays of growling or biting, they may learn to suppress earlier gestures (which are actually “red flag” and positive signs), and leap straight to snapping next time that uncomfortable situation or event presents itself.
Giving Dogs More to Do
Thankfully, I think owners are increasingly aware of a dog’s need for enrichment. If dogs don’t have things to do, problems can happen: a lack
For me personally, one of the most significant causes of problems between dog and owner is the wrong dog-wrong person combination or simply the wrong environment. It is incredibly important to both research the breed prior to purchase/adoption, and if you are adopting, to ask lots of questions about that individual dog. It seems so obvious and simple that a border collie would not be suited to a life in a high rise apartment and never being walked more than 10 minutes a day, yet instances like this still occur. Always consider the breed traits prior to homing, as well as the size of the dog, his energy requirement, drive, motivation etc. We really should not be surprised if we place a dog in an inappropriate situation and then he expresses normal behavior for his breed, especially if we provide no other outlet. And yet, so often, the dog gets the blame.
Communication is #1 for me. This is all about education. If we could provide our clients with more information regarding canine communication, I believe we could make a dent in the behavioral caseload, particularly aggression cases. It is concerning that, frequently in my experience, owners may be unaware of the signals their dogs project when fearful or uncomfortable in a given situation and even more concerning how many misinterpret those signals as “dominance” and proBARKS from the Guild/September 2018
of enrichment certainly plays a significant role in the development or maintenance of behavioral issues, e.g. abnormal repetitive behavior. Think of enrichment as social and mental. Social enrichment involves making enhancements to a dog’s environment, perhaps adding variation to her surroundings and lifestyle and incorporating novelty (new walks, digging areas, sandpits, water pools, new activities, dog TV, new games, etc.) Mental enrichment refers to the addition of problem solving tasks which become mental challenges for the dog (activity toys, puzzle games, hiding treats, scatter feeding, etc. Busy dogs in general equal happier dogs, but do watch for overarousal. In my opinion, a shift in the common mindset is needed, from cure to prevention. We need to think more about our dogs’ behavioral wellbeing as well as their physical health, and although we are progressing in this respect, I don’t think we’re quite there yet. The onus, in my experience, is too much on “wait and see” and then treat the dog or put up with the issue, rather than ensure it never occurs in the first place. I think it is also a case of prioritizing and realizing that our dogs’ behavioral health is actually as important as their physical wellbeing. This is another area which I, personally, don’t feel is as well developed – yet. If we can strike the balance, our dogs will be better for it. n
Pet Professional Guild. (2017). Puppy Training Resources. Available at: petprofessionalguild.com/PuppyTrainingResources Shepherd, K. (2009). Ladder of Aggression. BSAVA Manual of Canine and Feline Behaviour, 2nd edn. (Eds. D.F. Horwitz & D. S. Mills), pp.13–16
BARKS from the Guild/September 2018
Braastad, B.O. & Bakken, M. (2002) Behaviour of Dogs and Cats. In: P. Jensen (Ed). Ethology of Domestic Animals, pp 173-190. Wallingford, UK: CABI Houpt, K.A. (1991), In Rooney, N. & Sargan, D. (2009). Pedigree Dog Breeding in the UK: A major welfare concern? An independent scientiﬁc report commissioned by the RSPCA. Available at: bit.ly/2uO3Xxp (Download full report: bit.ly/2NW8OFp) Leaver, S.D.A. & Reimchen, T.E. (2008), In Rooney, N. & Sargan, D. (2009). Pedigree Dog Breeding in the UK: A major welfare concern? An independent scientiﬁc report commissioned by the RSPCA. Available at: bit.ly/2uO3Xxp (Download full report: bit.ly/2NW8OFp) Rooney, N. & Sargan, D. (2009). Pedigree Dog Breeding in the UK: A major welfare concern? An independent scientiﬁc report commissioned by the RSPCA. Available at: bit.ly/2uO3Xxp (Download full report: bit.ly/2NW8OFp) Shepherd, K. (2009). BSAVA Manual of Canine and Feline Behaviour, 2nd edn. (Eds. D.F. Horwitz & D. S. Mills), pp.13 – 16 Anna Francesca Bradley MSc BSc (Hons) is a United Kingdomebased provisional clinical, certiﬁed IAABC animal behavior consultant and ABTC accredited behavior consultant. She owns Perfect Pawz! Training and Behavior Practice (perfectpawz.co.uk) in Hexham, Northumberland), where the aim is always to create and restore happy relationships between dog and owner in a relaxed way, using methods based on sound scientiﬁc principles, which are both force-free and fun.
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Canine Car Anxiety
Lori Nanan discusses the issue of dogs with car sickness and anxiety and sets out a training
plan to improve the situation for all based on the power of associative learning
any people are left ious in the car for the rest of scratching their her life. Thankfully, once we heads when it had adopted her and comes to car sickness and switched to our own vet, we anxiety. It often feels much were able to get pharmaceulike a chicken or egg question: tical relief for her in the form which came first? Why is my of the anti-nausea medicadog getting sick in the car? Is tion, Cerenia. This was a cruit because he’s anxious about cial start to being able to being in the car and this break the cycle. But, it was makes him feel sick? Or is my only that: the start. Addressdog suffering from motion ing the nausea allowed me to sickness and has become anxget to the work of addressing ious in the car because of the anxiety. It was at this this? Often, people will start point I was extremely glad I experimenting to see if they was a dog trainer, because I can work it out: over the knew that I could use the counter medications, principles of desensitization pheromones, crates and conand counterconditioning finement and so on. It makes (DS/CC) to help my dog. sense to explore the two comTo help me get a better ponents separately, but doing perspective on how veterinarso effectively can be a bit ians handle these issues, I tricky. asked my colleague, Dr. I will use my own dog, Rachel Szumel of Blue Lake Hazel, as an example. After Animal Care Center in South Photo © Lori Nanan bringing her home, we noLake Tahoe, California, to fill Author Lori Nanan’s dog Hazel would get sick in the car when she was about ticed that she seemed to get me in on some of the decithree-quarters of the way into the journey, regardless of how far or long it was sick in the car when we were sion-making vets engage in, about three-quarters of the based on owner reports. way to where we were going, no matter how far or long the trip. We First, I asked her if, when an owner reports car sickness, she pretried over the counter anti-nausea meds, Benadryl (an antihistamine) scribes medication right away. She answered affirmatively, stating that and pheromone sprays with little to no success. We tried short trips she may suggest an over the counter motion sickness medication (like only, with little to no success. We tried confinement, with zero success. Dramamine) first, but that she sees less success with those. Her preAnd through it all, her anxiety seemed to worsen. She would drool, look scription go-to (and the medication that changed Hazel’s life) is Cerenia. around frantically and seemed afraid to move even a single muscle. The The primary usage for Cerenia is exactly this: to prevent nausea due to unfortunate part was that, throughout much of this period of trial and motion sickness. Speaking from my own experience, it is incredibly eferror, she was in foster care with us, and we had to drive her to the shel- fective and depending on the dog, simply ends the nausea and vomitter, which was an hour away, for testing and medications for her mange. ing, or reduces the nausea and vomiting to allow enough comfort for the training process to begin. And for many dogs, the training process is So she had many trips on which to a) feel sick, and b) feel anxious. Looking back, it was the perfect set-up for creating a dog who would be anxnecessary, because the cycle of nausea --> vomiting --> anxiety or anxiety --> nausea --> vomiting has been going on for a while, the associaWhile we are dabbling in alternative remedies, tions have been made and will not be broken without some behavioral our dogs are suffering. I learned this the hard help. Even if the dog is no longer getting sick, then, the underlying anxiway: while I was trying Benadryl, pheromones ety remains and needs to be worked on. The power of associative learnon bandanas and Dramamine, my dog was still ing has been doing its work in the background, even if we are not aware getting sick in the car and the association was of it. This is a good example – and reason – to discuss anti-anxiety medications with your veterinarian. getting stronger – contributing to the anxiety According to Dr. Szumel, for puppies, addressing the motion sickfactor. So, she was not feeling well and she was ness component often solves the problem, but not always. Multiple unscared. And I was wasting money, letting my car pleasant experiences can cause the development of a negative get ruined, and feeling helpless. conditioned emotional response (-CER) and anxiety that needs to be worked on, just as in adult dogs. Thankfully, in these cases, we can use 22
BARKS from the Guild/September 2018
DS/CC in the exact same way. I had the opportunity to work with one such puppy a few years after working through it with Hazel, and using the same principles, was able to help little Bailey and her parents resume their trips to New England from Pennsylvania, which had temporarily been put on hold due to Bailey’s extreme motion sickness and anxiety. In little Bailey’s case, she would start backing away from the car as soon as she was about 20 feet away. This made the DS/CC a bit trickier and “splittier” than Hazel’s, but I was confident using a training plan, we would get there, and we did.
Here is an example of how a trainer or dog owner might set out to write a plan:
Step 1: If there’s a car sickness component: See your vet.
I am a firm believer that “can’t hurt, could help” might actually hurt. Here’s why: While we are dabbling in alternative remedies, our dogs are suffering. I learned this the hard way: while I was trying Benadryl, pheromones on bandanas and Dramamine, my dog was still getting sick in the car and the association was getting stronger – contributing to the anxiety factor. So, she was not feeling well and she was scared. And I was wasting money, letting my car get ruined, and feeling helpless.
Step 2: Re-build a positive conditioned emotional response to the car.
In Hazel’s case, I was able to do this in the car as her anxiety didn’t kick in until the car was in motion. In little Bailey’s case, this involved starting way back from the car. When she saw the car, a steady flow of chicken began. We gradually and carefully closed the gap, always dropping back if she showed any signs of fear (in her case, this looked like backing away), moving closer (pushing) at clear signs of comfort, and sticking when she appeared neutral.
Step 3: Proceed based on the Push, Drop, Stick rules for fear and anxiety.
Before moving forward in the plan, it is important that we are doing so based on observation and not simply guessing. We will only move through the components that are scary for the dog if the dog is clearly comfortable. Though this may look different from dog to dog, most dog owners are able to identify frank signs of fear or anxiety in their dogs. Some may drool and whine, some may freeze and some may tremble, etc. It is critically important that we only push to a harder step on a clear +CER (the dog looks “happy” or is anticipating something, like when your dog looks as you open the treat bag), we drop on fear (the dog is clearly still uncomfortable or avoidant) and we stick on neutral (no clear signs of a +CER, but also not looking uncomfortable).
Step 4: Break the scary components down.
If the history is strong, many people can identify exactly at what point the anxiety starts. It might be when the door is opened, when the key goes into the ignition, when the gears shift, etc. This is important because if we don’t begin addressing the anxiety at that point, but later in the chain, we risk sensitizing the dog (making the anxiety worse) and have it start earlier in the chain.
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© Can Stock Photo/Boarding1Now
When working through the individual training plan to address car sickness and anxiety, only move through the components that are scary for the dog if the dog is clearly comfortable, while being aware that this may look different in each individual dog
Step 5: Begin taking short trips and gradually build to driving to places with positive outcomes.
Start simply with driving down the driveway, and then around the block, to a nearby park, and so on. Many dogs only go for car rides when they are going to the veterinarian, and because that in itself can be scary, it is no wonder that they develop anxiety (projects like The Academy for Dog Trainers’ Husbandry Project and initiatives such as Fear Free Pets aim to change all of that!). As we proceed on resolving the anxiety, we want to provide some padding and opportunities for car rides that result in something the dog likes. For Hazel, that meant to a park around the corner for walkies, and for little Bailey it meant a quick drive to the tennis court, where she would meet and play with her housemate, Benny.
Step 6: Gradually increase the length of the car rides, interspersing short ones with longer ones.
We don’t want to undermine all our progress by taking radical jumps in duration. Hazel’s current vet is about a half an hour away, so we built up to that and included trips to a park that was about the same distance. We also concurrently worked on building +CERs to all things related to veterinary care, which I believe to be something very worthwhile for those dogs who have made a negative association there, as well.
Keep in Mind
1. For dogs who have a mild fear of getting into the car, training an alternative behavior in the form of a differential reinforcement of an incompatible behavior (DRI), such as hand targeting, can work very well. See video, Car Phobia (Your Pit Bull and You, 2015) for a short example of this, as well as a brief overview of my work with Hazel.
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BARKS from the Guild/September 2018
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2. The longer the negative association, or -CER, has been able to build, the more likely you are to have to break down more of the components. Pay careful attention each step of the way and always remember the Push, Drop, Stick rules when writing your training plan, as you may have to insert some splits, or extra steps, along the way. 3. According to Dr. Szumel, starting anti-nausea meds can be very important with puppies right away as the longer they are getting sick, the more likely they are to develop anxiety. Her advice is to get started before the -CER really has a chance to set in as this can often make the process easier. To that end, my work with little Bailey did proceed much more quickly and with fewer splits and setbacks than my work with Hazel, as the anxiety had less time to dig in and puppies tend to be more resilient. 4. Avoid getting lured into “can’t hurt, could help” solutions. The internet is rife with information that can actually delay success and cause a worsening of symptoms in the meantime. Always speak to a veterinarian first, and consider medications where appropriate. Using medications only as a last resort may actually not only delay improvement, but cause a worsening of symptoms. 5. Use situational medications as per a veterinarian’s advice when car rides are unavoidable, as this can help protect your training and allow you to continue moving forward and avoid setbacks. Dr. Szumel concurs on the use of situational (anti-anxiety) meds for car anxiety and replied that the use of Alprazolam (Xanax), Trazodone, or a combination would be appropriate for people who needed to have their dogs travel while working through a training protocol. This can help protect the training as you go. n
Before moving forward in the plan, it is important that we are doing so based on observation and not simply guessing. We will only move through the components that are scary for the dog if the dog is clearly comfortable. Though this may look different from dog to dog, most dog owners are able to identify frank signs of fear or anxiety in their dogs...It is critically important that we only push to a harder step on a clear +CER. Resources
Yaletown Dog Training. (2017). Push Drop Stick Rules – a way make your training more efficient. Available at: bit.ly/2JxNKRX Your Pit Bull and You [Video File]. (2015, May 25). Car Phobia. Available at: youtu.be/bkzT6em0Q18 Lori Nanan is the owner of LoriNanan.com (lorinanan.com), which provides online courses for dog owners and dog professionals, as well as support services for positive dog trainers. She is also a staﬀ member at The Academy for Dog Trainers and is the founder of the nonproﬁt Your Pit Bull and You (yourpitbullandyou.org). She lives in New Hope, Pennsylvania with her husband and their dog Hazel, who is her best friend and greatest teacher.
www.petdogambassador.com BARKS from the Guild/September 2018
The Art of Communication
Debbie Bauer explains everything you need to know about double merles, and how to help
clients with deaf, hearing-impaired and/or blind dogs connect with and train their pet
Photo © Debbie Bauer
Photo © Debbie Bauer
Treasure works on a puzzle toy: for dogs who are both blind and deaf, owners can teach all the usual cues as tactile signals, i.e. signals the dog can feel
Blind and deaf double merles: Sheltie, Treasure (left) and collie, Vinny enjoy the same activities that other dogs enjoy
ou may have heard the terms double merle, lethal white, double dapple, or double dilute. These are all commonly used terms to describe a dog that has been born with two copies of the merle color pattern gene. The technical term is homozygous merle. It means that a particular puppy received a copy of merle from each of its parents. Merle is a pattern in a dog’s coat that creates a mottled coloring. There are many breeds that can carry merle. Some of the most common are Australian shepherds, Great Danes, collies, Shelties, Chihuahuas, Dachshunds (called dapple), and there are many more. With the rise in purposely breeding mixed breed dogs, the merle pattern is being seen now in breeds that it was not seen in before, and in many mixes of these breeds. It is difficult to tell just by looking if a dog is a double merle, although there are some signs that could point in that direction. Many are mostly white and may have splotches of color. But not all white or mostly white dogs are double merles. Double merles often have visual and/or hearing impairments, although not all white dogs with impairments will be double merles. If both of the dog’s parents are merle, and the puppy is mostly white with impairments, chances are it is a double merle. But the only true, foolproof way to tell is to have the dog genetically tested. There are more and more double merles showing up in rescues, shelters, and homes. You may be seeing them online, at the dog park, or in training classes. With the exploding popularity of merle in various breeds and mixes of dogs, many people are breeding without carefully considering genetics and the responsibility of their decisions. The visual and/or hearing impairments found in double merles can range from slight to being completely affected. Double merles are also totally preventable. Yes, we, as a dog-loving public, can prevent puppies from being born this way. The key is education. Merle is a beautiful coat pattern that many people find highly desirable. A merle colored puppy only needs one
merle gene. So, a solid patterned dog bred to a merle patterned dog can produce merle puppies with no chance of double merles being born. It is only when two merle dogs are bred together that the dice are rolled and double merle puppies can be produced. In my experience, most people living with merle dogs do not know this. Neither do people living with breeds of dog in which merle is common.
BARKS from the Guild/September 2018
With the popularity of adopting dogs, many people are coming across double merles needing homes and are quick to jump in and adopt. This is especially true when there are heart-grabbing stories about puppies that are visually and/or hearing impaired. It sure pulls at the heart strings. Many adopters are not prepared for how to communicate in a different way with dogs that are visually and/or hearing impaired. As the newness wears off, reality will set in. Can you imagine living with a dog and having no way to communicate with him? Most of us communicate with our dogs all day long in one way or another. Imagine if you didn’t even know where to begin. How difficult would that be? It is important that pet professionals learn about working with dogs with different abilities so they can help their clients. Adopters will come to you for help and answers. If they don’t find what they’re looking for, the dog they just saved may end up homeless again.
It is important that pet professionals learn about working with dogs with different abilities so they can help their clients. Adopters will come to you for help and answers. If they don’t find what they’re looking for, the dog they just saved may end up homeless again.
Deaf dogs learn hand and body signal cues very
easily. Training programs utilizing luring in early There are many degrees of deafness. A dog can be completely deaf in one or both ears. He may be partially deaf in one or both ears as well, or stages of teaching can very easily fade the lure he may have any degree of hearing loss in any combination. If there is and continue to use an adapted version of the some hearing, it is important to realize that the dog may notice a sound, hand motion as the new signal cue. This is an but not be able to pinpoint where it was coming from or what caused it. easy way for adopters to teach new behaviors. If the dog has usable hearing, use that to its fullest in communication. It may require some experimenting to find out what the dog can hear well enough to use for training. For example, a dog may be able to Clickers or verbal markers work very well. Sometimes adopters may be recognize a loud clicker, but not differentiate verbal cues. reluctant to talk to their dogs a lot in a new public class setting. An alterDeaf dogs learn hand and body signal cues very easily. Training pronative is for them to wear a small bell around their wrist or ankle to grams utilizing luring in early stages of teaching can very easily fade the help their dog keep track of them with all the commotion and noise lure and continue to use an adapted version of the hand motion as the going on in the room. new signal cue. This is an easy way for adopters to teach new behaviors. When teaching a blind dog to come when called, it is important to I do teach deaf dogs a marker signal – many people use a thumbs up continue calling or clapping until the dog gets all the way to its person. as a marker. A hand flash (closed fist opening quickly to a wide-open This provides an auditory signal the dog can orient to and follow. Otherhand with fingers spread) is also popuwise the dog may start out in the right lar. Some people advise using the flash direction, but then lose track of a perof a penlight. There is some controson who has gone quiet. versy as to whether this encourages Teach verbal cues that will help the unwanted behaviors of light and dog in everyday life – step up, step shadow focus/chasing. I prefer to use a down, wait, slow, go around, careful. hand signal marker, personally. These will go a long way toward buildIt is important to show adopters ing the dog’s confidence and helping how to teach and reinforce a deaf dog the adopter to learn to communicate for checking in with them automatiabout obstacles in the dog’s environcally. Each and every time the dog ment. Utilizing obstacle courses in class looks at them or comes to them, there is an excellent way to teach and pracshould be lots of reinforcement in the tice these cues. beginning to really instill in a dog that When feeding treats, it is helpful to he needs to keep his eye on his person. always feed in the same place around This is important for communication. A the dog. I always present treats in front deaf dog that checks in often will be of the dog’s nose. This way the dog aleasier to give a cue sign to. Obviously, a ways knows where the treat will appear deaf dog must be looking in order to after a click or verbal marker. This will see a sign. help cut down on the amount of time In a class situation, it can be helpful the dog spends sniffing and searching to place deaf dogs in areas of the room all over the air or floor, and it will also where their backs are not to a doorway decrease any snapping at the treat. or the other students so they can Teach the person to hold the treat still gather information about their surand present it in the same place in roundings with their eyes. Trying to get front of the dog each time. them to face away from the activity is hard for beginner dogs and people. AlPhoto © Debbie Bauer Blind and Deaf Dogs lowing them to see is important for Vinny the blind and deaf collie poses with one of his many trick dog With dogs that are both blind and deaf, their comfort levels. If the dog is overtitles I use a combination of the above tips. I stimulated by what he sees, utilizing do teach an automatic check in although screens can be helpful, gradually opening them as the dog is more comthis looks a bit different than a deaf dog looking back at me for informafortable and able to focus on his person. tion. A blind/deaf dog will actually come over to me and often touch me Blind Dogs as a check in. I always reinforce this. The side effect is that I have dogs that may seem underfoot or that poke me often. This can sometimes be Just as with deaf dogs, blind dogs can have a huge range of visual abilifrustrating to new adopters as they teach this exercise. Be prepared to ties. Some may have no eyes at all. Some may have only tissue showing coach them and remind them that this is how their dog gathers informabut may be able to sense the difference between light and dark. Others tion. may see shapes and movement. Some may be able to see certain conFeeding treats in front of the dog in the same position is important trasts or at certain distances. Others may appear to see fine in most sithere too. You can teach all the same cues as tactile signals. Use signals uations but can be unable to see in bright sun or to distinguish depths the dog can feel. For example, my tactile cue for step down (as in a flight properly. of stairs or a curb) is a quick double tap at the bottom of the front of my Surfaces are very important to blind dogs. Some surfaces may be dog’s chest. He will immediately search low to find the drop off and will new and scary, such as tile floors, or scent-laden rubber training mats. then step down. My marker signal is tactile also. Floors that have highly contrasting colors or patterns or hard shadows Depending on how the class is set up, it is important to realize that can be confusing for a dog that can see a little bit but not well. blind and blind/deaf dogs are not always good at recognizing and reIf the dog can hear, use that in all ways when training a blind dog. BARKS from the Guild/September 2018
sponding to the body language of other dogs. If the exercises in the class involve greeting or interacting with other dogs, proceed cautiously. Blind/deaf dogs can and do greatly enjoy dog-dog interaction. Just like any dogs, however, they can be overwhelmed, or can show bullying type behaviors. The difference is that they donâ€™t always recognize the other dogsâ€™ signals, so cannot adjust their interactions accordingly. It is unfortunate that double merles are usually born with visual and/or hearing differences. Hopefully, one day soon, education about this issue will be more widespread and there will be no more double merles being born. There are many people working hard to get this message out and helping to teach adopters, rescues, and pet professionals how to help these special dogs. Having said that, it is important to know that blind, deaf and blind/deaf dogs are not helpless. Far from it. They enjoy exactly the same activities that other dogs enjoy, especially when we teach their people how to communicate with them effectively. n Debbie Bauer HTACP is the owner of Your Inner Dog (yourinnerdog.com) in Effingham, Illinois and has over 25 years of experience teaching and consulting with dogs and their people. She is known worldwide for her expertise in working with dogs that are blind and/or deaf. She is also the author of several books and keeps an informative and fun blog, The White Dog Blog (your-innerdog.blogspot.com) about life with her blind and deaf dogs. She has also trained dogs in a variety of fields, including therapy work, flyball, herding, obedience, agility, musical freestyle, conformation, lure coursing, tricks and scent work.
BARKS from the Guild/September 2018
When teaching a blind dog to come when called, it is important to continue calling or clapping until the dog gets all the way to its person. This provides an auditory signal the dog can orient to and follow. best of Bringing the stry to the pet indu nd share a a ch t, chuckle BARKS Podcasts is the 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 and their special guests every month!
Training the Wild Friends at Best Friends
Vicki Ronchette talks training tortoises to target and station, thinking outside the box to find
high value reinforcers, and the importance of working with different species to improve
Photo © Vicki Ronchette
Via clicker training, the workshop tortoises were quick to learn to target and trainers were quickly able to add duration to the behavior
hen I received the phone call last year asking me if I would teach three workshops for PPG’s inaugural Training and Behavior Workshop at Best Friends Animal Society in Kanab, Utah, I immediately said yes. How could I not? Visiting Best Friends is on the bucket list for many people and I had been interested in seeing this amazing place for a long time. I also felt a little bit of pressure as the quality of instructors I would be teaching alongside was more than impressive. Nevertheless, I still had to say yes. My assigned area was Wild Friends at Best Friends Animal Sanctuary. Wild Friends is the area that cares for animals that don’t obviously fit into one of the other areas, such as Dogtown or Parrot Garden. As in all the areas, animals come and go. They are accepted into the program and many are adopted out, if they are adoptable. What makes Wild Friends different is that you never know what species will be there. I was told they had raptors, chickens and reptiles at the time, but that it could change any time. Teaching at a big workshop or conference can be
Photo © Vicki Ronchette
Learning to effectively deliver reinforcers like greens and grape pieces while working with a completely new species can be tricky, but is an excellent skill for trainers to have
stressful enough, but to not know what animals I would be working with was a whole other ball game. In order to keep it simple and workable, then, I created a workshop that would work with just about any species. When I arrived in Kanab, Chirag Patel, who was also hosting workshops in the Wild Friends area, and I were taken on a tour of Best Friends including the Wild Friends area, so we could see which animals might be options for us to work with. There were a lot of wonderful animals and it was hard not to want to work with all of them. There was a gorgeous red-tailed hawk, one of my favorite species and a bird I love working with. However, using a non-releasable wild bird of prey in a workshop to work with 10 people is not a great idea. We would have spent the entire time just working on the bird being comfortable with us standing around. There was also a beautiful Peking duck that had an issue with chasing people in his enclosure. I really wanted to work with him and immediately had ideas of incompatible behaviors we could train to help with this behavior. But again, with one duck and 10 people
BARKS from the Guild
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Photo © Vicki Ronchette
Photo © Vicki Ronchette
Photo © Vicki Ronchette
For the tortoises, reinforcers come in the form of dandelion greens and chopped-up greens, and, very occasionally, fruit if something of higher value is needed (see photo, center, with Thar, who was initially not so interested in the food)
I was concerned about how that would flow in a workshop setting. As we continued through the tour, I saw pigeons and doves that I thought could be a possibility. We also met the chickens and Chirag decided to work with them in his workshop. Then, as we reached the end of the tour, we met the tortoises. There were 10 tortoises in a habitat that was perfect for a workshop. People could easily have access to the tortoises, and there was no need for protected contact so we could be inside the separate areas. I knew immediately I wanted to work with these animals. I think the caretakers thought I was a little crazy when I said this, but I have worked with tortoises in the past and knew I could make this work.
My workshop was titled Approaching, Training and Bonding with Rescue Birds (oops, not birds after all!). I was only a little concerned that people would be upset when they found out we would not be working with birds because I knew that they would be excited once they met the tortoises. My plan for the workshops was for people to think about how they initially approach and meet the animals they will be working with, so rather than going straight in and trying to start training immediately, I encourage people to use that time to build a relationship by approaching thoughtfully and watching the animal’s body language. Once we assess that the animals are relaxed, then we can consider beginning our training. From there, we need to talk about reinforcers. For tortoises, these come in the form of dandelion greens and chopped-up greens. Then, we would work on training two behaviors, targeting and stationing. I also asked the Best Friends animal caretakers if there was anything we could work on that would be helpful to them or beneficial to the animals and they told us about one overweight tortoise who they thought could benefit from recall training for exercise. During the first workshop, we worked with whichever tortoises the
It is very possible to pressure and overwhelm an animal even when you are trying to offer food and train using positive reinforcement, so it is important to wait until the animal is ready. 30
BARKS from the Guild/September 2018
caretakers felt were the most food motivated. Attendees were divided up into three groups and each group worked with one tortoise. These animals are comfortable with people and have a lot of space in their enclosures, so it was easy to approach and work with them. With every tortoise we worked with it took a little time to get them to take food, but this was fine as it is all part of the process. It is very possible to pressure and overwhelm an animal even when you are trying to offer food and train using positive reinforcement, so it is important to wait until the animal is ready. All the tortoises were taking the food quickly, so we introduced the clicker and started working on our targeting and stationing behavior. I was beyond impressed with how the animals did and how quickly the attendees took to working with tortoises. I was also happy – but not surprised – at how much they enjoyed working with them, even though they may have been an animal they wouldn’t previously have thought could be very exciting. For the second workshop the following day, I wanted to try and work with new animals. I asked the group what they thought about this, and if they would be willing to work with tortoises that had been labeled “not food motivated.” To my delight, everyone wanted to give it a try. I asked the caretakers if we could use fruit as it may be a higher value reinforcer. At Best Friends, they do not feed fruit often because of the sugar content, but agreed to let us use it as long as it was not every day with the same animals, which worked out perfectly. One tortoise, Thar, was still not very interested in the food, so I asked if his group wanted to try working with another tortoise. Two people in the group decided to move on, but one person, who has turtles at home, asked to continue working with Thar. And indeed, she got Thar eating and successfully had him targeting and stationing. Another astonishing thing happened with a different tortoise who we were told was overweight and needed exercise. This tortoise started out happily taking food but then stopped eating. However, she continued to stay with the group of people. I asked the caretaker if this tortoise enjoyed being touched and he said that she did, so I asked him to show us how he touches her. He explained that she seemed to like being scratched on her legs close to her shell. We continued our stationing training, but changed the reinforcer from clicking and feeding to scratching her. The trainer would thus scratch, then stop and wait, and then scratch again when the animal moved closer towards her and the station. The behavior was completed with scratching used as reinforcement!
I feel strongly that our training and mechanical skills can be greatly improved by working with different species...Some people question whether tortoises can be trained, but all animals can learn and these little dinosaurs are no different. One thing that I really enjoyed seeing was the animals we had worked with on the first day come rushing out to greet us as soon as they saw us the next time. They were asking to be trained again! During the last workshop on the final day, we trained both sets of animals that we had used the previous two days. Again, we had a day of successes and were able to add some duration to the stationing behavior as well as duration to following the targeting. Two people worked on the recall with the one tortoise who needed more exercise and I was thrilled to be able to leave her and her caretakers with that skill. For me personally, teaching these workshops and working with the tortoises and their caretakers was an amazing experience. I feel strongly that our training and mechanical skills can be greatly improved by working with different species. To see people discover this with the tortoises was incredible. Watching the tortoises go from being still and suspicious to being so quick that attendees had to rush to deliver reinforcement in a timely manner was a great learning opportunity for all of us. Also, being required to work out the challenge of delivering reinforcers like greens and grape pieces while working with a completely new species can be tricky, but a great skill to have. However, the best part of all was seeing people fall in love with tortoises. Some people question whether tortoises can be trained, but all animals can learn and these little dinosaurs are no different. I am thrilled to have been able to introduce this group of talented trainers to these sometimes unappreciated animals. n
Photo © Vicki Ronchette
On the final day of the workshop, trainers were able to add some duration to the tortoises’ stationing behavior as well as duration to following the target
Vicki Ronchette began training dogs in the late 80s and has competed in various dog sports with her own dogs obtaining several titles. She has attained multiple animal training certifications including CPDT, CAP2, CNWI and is the owner of Braveheart Dog Training (braveheartdogtraining.com) in San Leandro, California, which offers conformation classes, workshops and webinars, as well as bird training and behavior consulting. She is also author of Positive Training for Show Dogs – Building a Relationship for Success, From Shy to Showy - Help for Your Shy Show Dog, Ready? Set. SHOW! – A Handbook for Dog Shows and has written numerous dog training articles. In addition, she has been a raptor handler with California-based Native Bird Connections, and has worked with a variety of animals, including dogs, cats, parrots, chickens, raptors, goats, corvids, doves and tortoises.
Getting on Their Level
Emily Cassell explains why rabbits don’t like being picked up, and how to implement
a desensitization/counterconditioning protocol to help them feel more comfortable
with being handled
So, who’s cranky?” It’s the first question I ask when I begin a volunteer shift at my local shelter. I like to give the “pocket pet” staff a break from their “problem children,” and offer to clean the cages of the rabbits (it’s always the rabbits) who give them a hard time. After they point out their scary bunnies, I follow up by asking for a description of exactly what’s going on with each individual. Typically, I expect issues with “cage aggression,” a label used to describe rabbits who thump, growl, lunge, bite, box, and/or scratch at the human hands that invade their home. Typically exhibited by does (female rabbits), cage aggression is completely normal behavior. A female’s natural instincts to defend her nesting chamber from intruders often transfers to the cage, pen, or run where the rabbit lives. Naturally, it’s quite difficult (and surprisingly scary) to clean a cage while a seemingly adorable rabbit attacks your hand with lightning-fast strikes of chiseled teeth. However, it is not always cage aggression that staff are referring to when they describe a rabbit as problematic. “He’s fine, he just struggles and thumps when we try to pick him up,” they might say. Over time, I am pretty sure my response has turned into a bit of a spiel, as my approach to this “problem” is very different from my approach to other undesirable behavior. In the case of cage aggression, for example, the rabbits are likely to intensify their aggression as the aversive situation (i.e. cage cleaning) happens day after day. Threat displays are likely to escalate to bites as the animal’s warnings are ignored, and animals that bite in a shelter could potentially be in a life-threatening situation. Obviously, those behaviors need to be addressed. If a rabbit doesn’t want to be picked up, though, I view the issue quite differently. My goal has nothing to do with the rabbit’s behavior and everything to do with education. If a potential adopter comes in and is disheartened by not being able to hold a rabbit, then a rabbit is likely not the pet for them. But wait! Aren’t rabbits the poster children for cute and cuddly? Don’t people hold them all the time? Sure. People do a lot of things with their pets all the time. It doesn’t necessarily mean the animals are enjoying it. To understand why, we need to go through a little natural history lesson first.
Rabbits are the “fast food” of the animal world. They exist on every continent except Antarctica, and just about everything preys on them, from large animals like wolves and lynx all the way down to birds of prey, snakes, and foxes. Although it is not the most glamorous position in the food chain, it is undeniable that rabbits play a critical role in the natural world. This does not mean, however, that they haven’t developed some
Typically exhibited by does (female rabbits), cage aggression is completely normal behavior. A female’s natural instincts to defend her nesting chamber from intruders often transfers to the cage, pen, or run where the rabbit lives. 32
BARKS from the Guild/September 2018
Photo © Emily Cassell
Cage aggression is a normal leporine behavior and likely to intensify, often escalating to bites when warnings are ignored, as an aversive situation such as cage cleaning continues happening day after day
pretty amazing adaptations to protect them in that role. Rabbits are well known for their ability to, well, multiply like rabbits. They are not however, well known for maternal care. Indeed, every spring wildlife rehabbers are plagued with baby bunnies that were “abandoned” and then “rescued” by well-intentioned animal-lovers. One of a mother rabbit’s strategies for protecting her young is to spend very little time with them in an effort to not draw attention to her nest. Does nurse their kits just twice a day, so many people assume that, because momma rabbit is nowhere near the nest they just stumbled upon, the babies have been abandoned. Yes, that’s my little PSA: leave baby bunnies in their nest! This behavior transfers to domesticated life as well. When litters are born in the shelter, mom often chooses to rest as far away from her kits as she can. This “paws-off” approach to motherhood also means that mother rabbits don’t pick up and carry their kits. This means that the ONLY time a wild rabbit is picked up is when a predator is doing it. Obviously, it’s not a great feeling. Now, look at your hands. Imagine picking up a rabbit. Can you see how your hands might be a little like teeth? Talons? Can you see why a rabbit might struggle when being picked up?
Another factor to consider in all of this is the domestication of rabbits. With the exception of dogs, cats, and horses, domesticated animals were bred for some sort of product rather than companionship, including rabbits. Rabbits were originally bred for their meat and pelt. Later, breeding became more focused on laboratory use, and, most recently,
rabbit showing. While dog breed standards often include a few notes on temperament, rabbit breed standards focus entirely on physical traits. Breeding for companionship is really only a recent development in the history of rabbit domestication. Many pet rabbit breeders will handle the kits from birth to help them feel more comfortable when being picked up, but the vast majority of the pet rabbit population did not get this early advantage. With all of that being said, there are plenty of rabbits who enjoy being held and loved on by their humans, and don’t mind being picked up. However, I would say these are the exceptions. The majority of bunnies will struggle and kick out on the way up, which is dangerous as their back feet are so powerful that they can kick hard enough to break their own backs. If a bunny manages to get away in the struggle, the human typically receives a disapproving “foot flick” towards the face as he runs off. For a prey animal, negative reinforcement, or escape, is an incredibly powerful motivator. It is literally how a bunny learns how to survive, so escape is the ultimate reinforcer. If a bunny is being picked up, struggles, and gets away, the rabbit may view his escape maneuvers as lifesaving. Considering the danger in the struggle itself, this is a big problem for a bunny guardian to have. When I work with rabbit owners who complain that their rabbit doesn’t like to be picked up, my first question is, “Why does he/she need to be picked up?” and we typically work on the rabbit voluntarily participating in whatever it is that the human is trying to achieve. However, a rabbit will inevitably need to be lifted at times throughout his life, so it is important to put in the work and ensure bunny is comfortable with it.
Like most fears, the best way to approach this is with desensitization and counterconditioning (DS/CC). Like all DS/CC programs, the process for picking up bunny is slow and tedious. If bunny doesn’t even like to be touched, the process is that much longer. For the purposes of brevity, I will overview my experiences with my current rabbit. I will preface by saying that these guidelines are by no means comprehensive, and, of course, each animal is an individual and will require an individualized approach. I adopted Tula about a year ago. She was a stray who had been successfully avoiding escape for about three months before being rescued
Photo © Emily Cassell
When kept as pets, rabbits may struggle when being picked up; their back feet are so powerful they can kick hard enough to break their own backs with escape becoming the ultimate reinforcer
One of a mother rabbit’s strategies for protecting her young is to spend very little time with them in an effort to not draw attention to her nest. Does nurse their kits just twice a day, so many people assume that, because momma rabbit is nowhere near the nest they just stumbled upon, the babies have been abandoned. from the vegetable garden she was raiding. Basically, then, Tula was a wild bunny for at least three months before I got her, and I’m not sure where she was before that. I feel pretty confident that she was somebody’s pet, though, because after day six of being in my home, she decided we were friends and solicited petting from me. I had not touched her up to that point. From that moment on, she was an incessant attention seeker who really loved being touched. So, that was our starting point. When rabbits groom each other, it is mostly on the face, right between the eyes. A rabbit is typically the most comfortable with touch between the eyes and on the top of the back. For the purposes of picking up, desensitization needs to happen on the sides, belly, rump, and bottom. When beginning training, I always advise rabbit owners to stop picking up their rabbit completely unless there is an emergency…but make sure there isn’t one! When petting Tula, I began to slowly let my hand expand from her back down to her side. I started with a stroke where I let my fingers gently drape down about level with her shoulder, then over her ribs, and gradually lower and lower. Once she was comfortable with me touching her side where her belly met the floor, I would slide one finger just slightly under her middle. Eventually, I used my whole hand, and moved it under her belly while she laid on it. At this point, the purposes of my desensitization were about being able to check her incision post-spay. Once she had the surgery, I waited a week (to allow healing to begin) then began checking the incision daily. That work had been really successful, so we went to the next step. Other variables I began to work into Tula’s desensitization work were two hands on her body instead of one, touching her rump, and my hands not moving on her back. Finally, I gradually began to do little lifts
Photo © Emily Cassell
Whether born in the wild or in a shelter or home environment, mother rabbits often choose to rest as far away from their kits to avoid drawing attention to the nest
BARKS from the Guild/September 2018
Photo © Emily Cassell
Desensitization and Counterconditioning
Photo © Emily Cassell
Mother rabbits do not pick up and carry their kits. This means that the only time a wild rabbit is picked up is when a predator is doing it. As such, many pet rabbits are not comfortable with being picked up, but will inevitably need to be lifted at times throughout their life, so it is important to put in the work to make sure they are comfortable with it. As with any desensitization and counterconditioning process, this can be slow and tedious, and will vary between individuals. As rabbits are typically the most comfortable with touch between the eyes and on the top of the back (top left), author Emily Cassell started the process by slowly letting her hand expand from rabbit Tula’s back down to her side (top right). Other variables she worked on were two hands on Tula’s body instead of one, touching her rump, and her hands not moving on Tula’s back (bottom left). Finally, she gradually began to do little lifts with Tula’s front end (bottom right). She is now able to lift and move Tula short distances without stress.
Photo © Emily Cassell
with her front end. I first applied a little pressure as if I was going to lift, and before long, I could support her front end with one hand and pet her with the other while she was totally relaxed. Continuing on that work, I am able to lift and move her short distances without stress.
Being carried and being held are two separate behaviors that have to be worked independently, but, in my case, I choose to not work them at all. Rather than carry Tula, I have taught her to crate herself or to “shift” from one place to the other by hopping there. As far as being held, I will teach a rabbit to hop into my lap, but they often don’t enjoy balancing on the unevenness of a person’s lap. I usually just get down on my bunny’s level and spend time with them on solid ground, where they are comfortable. When it comes to being held for other purposes, I teach whatever behavior is needed. Tula and I are currently working on a voluntary nail trim, and she has learned to take medications voluntarily. In an emergency situation, it may be necessary to hold bunny when he is not comfortable with it, but there are still ways to reduce his stress. The most important thing to avoid is chasing the rabbit. Chasing 34
BARKS from the Guild/September 2018
Photo © Emily Cassell
a prey animal really amps up their stress level, and if they are successful avoiding capture, they view it as such. The best way to avoid a chase is to stroke the bunny before picking him up. Often, they don’t run off, making it easy to quickly press them to your chest to prevent them from injuring themselves if they struggle. If bunny needs to be held for longer periods, like for taking medications or syringe-feeding, securely wrapping his body in a towel is a safe, effective alternative. If bunnies don’t enjoy being held and snuggled, then, what do you
Rabbits are the “fast food” of the animal world...mother rabbits don’t pick up and carry their kits. This means that the ONLY time a wild rabbit is picked up is when a predator is doing it. Obviously, it’s not a great feeling. Now, look at your hands. Imagine picking up a rabbit. Can you see how your hands might be a little like teeth? Talons? Can you see why a rabbit might struggle when being picked up?
do with them? Get on their level! Sitting and hanging out with bunny is a great way to begin an interaction. Rabbits are curious and highly social, and bond closely with their families. While learning to be comfortable when being picked up is an essential husbandry skill, it isn’t necessary for bonding with a rabbit. It isn’t necessary to pick up many of the animals we train, yet we are able to still build strong relationships with them. Relationships of any kind require understanding of and by those involved, so learning the likes and dislikes of an individual are the best ways to build a strong foundation. I feel the work involved in earning the trust of an animal who, at the bottom of the food chain, has no reason to trust anyone, makes the relationship all the more special. You can totally snuggle your bunny…once you’ve earned it! n
Emily Cassell is a zookeeper and professional pet trainer based in Tampa, Florida. She began her career in 2010 with dogs before expanding to ﬁsh, guinea pigs, cats, rabbits, and other pets while operating her own training business, Phins with Fur Animal Training (sites.google.com/site/phinswithfurtraining/home). While pursuing a degree in Animal Science at the University of Florida, she worked with Class Act for Dogs in Gainesville before returning to Tampa to work at Courteous Canine, Inc. After completing internships with Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo and Clearwater Marine Aquarium working with manatees, dolphins, otters, and birds, she landed a job as a full-time keeper and trainer at one of world’s most respected zoological institutions, located in Tampa. Her primary responsibilities now include orangutans, tigers, gibbons, bats and various other species. Despite her career with much larger animals, she has always maintained an interest in small pets. She has presented multiple webinars and written various articles on small pet care and behavior. In addition, she operates Small Animal Resources (facebook.com/smallanimalresources), a service providing free help for those needing assistance with small mammal care as well as private behavior consultation for small pets.
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BARKS from the Guild/September 2018
A Long-Term Solution
Lara Joseph details her behavior modification plans for an umbrella cockatoo who was
screaming and self-mutilating due to inappropriate enrichment, and the importance
of consulting with a behavior professional with knowledge of the species â€“ rather
than taking advice for free
n this article, I am going to share details of a behavior modification plan that epitomizes the importance of consulting with a professional who has specific knowledge and understanding of the relevant species in any individual behavior case. Let me introduce you to Abbey, the male umbrella cockatoo. (Just to explain, the gender of most parrots is determined via a blood draw, but in this instance, Abbey's blood draw took place after he was named.) At one of the zoos I consult with, I noticed one day the arrival of an older, rehomed, umbrella cockatoo. I inquired about his history, and learned that he came from a family who no longer had the time for him. I was curious, so asked for details about how the zoo cared for him currently. They told me there was one keeper who was consistently getting Abbey out of his cage on a daily basis. News of this social interaction was joy to my ears as I know what social parrots cockatoos are. Nevertheless, I warned the keeper how important it was to keep a balance in Abbeyâ€™s daily life so he had time with other people as well as time on his own to forage and interact with different forms of environmental enrichment. I also made sure she was aware that cockatoos can bond to one person very quickly. The keeper told me that Abbey sat on her shoulder while she worked. Well, I have my own opinion about parrots on shoulders, especially if you haven't taken the time to understand them: If I have a parrot on my shoulder, it is one I know very well and only when in a controlled environment. When a parrot tenses up on your shoulder, you can feel it through their feet. To get the best read on behavior, you have to look at the parrot and, of course, to do this, many people turn their heads toward the parrot. That usually doesn't end pleasantly. There's a reason why pirates wear an eye patch. The next time I consulted at the zoo, I decided to stop and visit with Abbey again. He was in his cage chewing on a large box at the bottom of the cage. I sighed. I had suggested enrichment and they had given it to him, but this particular form was reinforcing a behavior sure to bring about behavior issues. As parrots sexually mature, they may want to engage in the natural behavior of breeding and rearing their young. Trying to prevent or redirect a natural behavior of an undomesticated, complex, social animal can keep you on your toes where you are consistently having to redirect behavior. Boxes, dark corners, closets, covers,
If I have a parrot on my shoulder, it is one I know very well and only when in a controlled environment. When a parrot tenses up on your shoulder, you can feel it through their feet. To get the best read on behavior, you have to look at the parrot and, of course, to do this, many people turn their heads toward the parrot. That usually doesn't end pleasantly. There's a reason why pirates wear an eye patch. 36
BARKS from the Guild/September 2018
Photo ÂŠ Lara Joseph
Umbrella cockatoo Abbey started self-mutilating after his keepers followed advice from an inexperienced trainer who told them to reduce his food and isolate him because of his screaming
and drawers are all areas likely to draw the attention of a sexually mature parrot. They are all potential nesting sites, but are usually not areas and behaviors the average companion parrot caretaker is aware of. Providing boxes as enrichment can lead to undesirable behaviors such as lunging at people, biting, flying, and biting people walking by, in addition to medical concerns. Also, providing or allowing time in nesting sites often causes a parrot to become protective of the area. This is a natural behavior. I informed the zoo about my concerns and suggested foraging toys and other enrichment that hung from the cage top instead of boxes on the cage floor.
The next time I stopped in at the zoo, there was another box in the bottom of the cage. I approached the keeper again, and she told me she was not there every day, so was not sure who put it in his cage. She did
tell me it was keeping Abbey busy and that was their plan. I mentioned to her there is a familiar pattern of a parrot losing his or her home. It goes like this: The new parrot is exciting. The parrot gets out of the cage the majority of the day and gets used to being with people. Then real life starts again, and the parrot starts spending more time back in his cage. He isn't used to this and begins screaming for attention. People unknowingly reinforce the screaming with attention and inadequate enrichment. The parrot is then likely to start searching for other enrichment such as pulling up papers on the cage bottom and creating nesting material. Whenever the bird does get out, nesting behaviors have now been reinforced, and anyone who comes into close contact with the preferred person will get bitten, or even the favored person may get bitten. That person then becomes afraid of the bird and, from then on, he is in his cage where he will spend the majority of his time from then on. A few months later I was called in to the zoo due to a serious concern with Abbey. I could see immediately that he had begun mutilating his chest. Unfortunately, this is more common with cockatoos, African Greys, and parrots, but not limited to these species. After making some inquiries, I found out they had taken the advice of an inexperienced trainer – because it was free. The information they were given was to reduce Abbey’s food and to isolate Abbey due to his screaming. Sadly, I informed them this was the worst thing they could have done. I immediately put two behavior modification plans into place, one for the screaming and one for the mutilating. I worked with all of the keepers explaining the screaming modification plan, and it took effect within the first five minutes. Abbey was screaming for attention, so we picked any other, acceptable vocalizations and reinforced them with a continuous schedule of reinforcement that included attention, talking back to him from a distance, and proximity to him. The behavior modification plan I suggested for the mutilating behavior was not going to be as easy. I suggested moving Abbey back to the area he had been in before the mutilating began. This was also a place where he would have more access to people to help create distractions to keep him busy, rather than be preoccupied with his chest. Unfortunately, they said they couldn't do this, so I had to work with what I had. To start with, I suggested stopping the delivery of the majority of the treats the keepers handed to him as they walked by and, instead, putting those treats into foraging toys so he could only get them by working for them. This needed to be consistent and done numerous times throughout the day. I informed the keepers that this was extremely important and should be of highest priority.
I called the zoo two days later, and was informed the mutilating behavior was getting worse. The keepers admitted they couldn't give their attention to creating the foraging toys I had advised, and told me Abbey was now taking his food and placing it into the hole he had created in his chest. I understood the keepers’ in-
...the mutilating behavior was getting worse. The keepers admitted they couldn't give their attention to creating the foraging toys I had advised, and told me Abbey was now taking his food and placing it into the hole he had created in his chest.
ability to dedicate the time to the toys. Unfortunately, I also noticed a decrease in the ability to divert Abbey from his chest. The behavior had increased dramatically. I got him out of his cage, and even when standing on my arm, he was more focused on his chest than on the attention I was giving him. This increase in attention he was giving to his chest was the behavior I was most concerned with preventing. In this video, Baseline behavior of Abbey, the mutilating cockatoo, you will see Abbey’s tongue clicking, which occurs in correlation with nesting behaviors. You will also see him trying to maneuver my hand to sexually selfstimulate. When not allowed to do either, he quickly reverts back to his chest. All the keepers were emotionally involved at this stage, as was I. I told the zoo I strongly recommended Abbey move to an environment where he could get individualized attention, and that this could not happen fast enough. The next day they agreed, so I started making arrangements for Abbey to come to my training center. When she found out about this, a client of mine, Shellie, offered to take Abbey on the condition that she could consult with me on a daily basis. Not bringing Abbey into my direct care and allowing him to go to someone else was a very emotional decision for me to make, but I knew if I brought him under my direct supervision, the quality of care I could give to my other animals would suffer. I didn't want to do that to them, so I agreed for Shellie to take Abbey. The next day, off he went. I cannot emphasize enough how significant this quick move was in this case. When Shellie got Abbey home, one of the first things she did was put a soft collar on him. Was the collar an aversive? A positive punisher? Yes, it was both of these, but the alternative of not using it was worse. We were all afraid of losing Abbey to infection. Even though we had medical advice from an avian veterinarian and a behavior modification in place, we were on pins and needles for the next several days. Each day I was receiving texts with photos and videos from Shellie along with her training notes. I would advise where needed. We introduced foraging opportunities immediately and tried to identify a variety of food reinforcers, which can be tricky with rehomed parrots. Active training was implemented within a few days as the list of food reinforcers grew and Shellie began Photo © Lara Joseph target training Abbey to touch a tarAbbey interacts with foraging toy, his replacement behavior for get stick with his beak. Then, she self-mutilating, while in his soft collar (worn as a temporary measure to allow the hole he had created in his chest to heal) started training tricks with the target BARKS from the Guild/September 2018
avian Abbey, four months after intervention, no longer needs to wear his soft collar now his chest is healed and he has received a clean bill of health from the vet; replacement behaviors for the self-mutilation are firmly in place
Photo © Lara Joseph
stick. Next, she introduced him to the aviary which was full of visual, audible, and tactile enrichment. I watched the videos daily and felt very confident with her progress and dedication. Here we are, only four months later and the combination of quick action and a very detailed behavior modification plan has resulted in Abbey being on the mend. At the time of writing, Shellie had just been able to take off the soft collar. Over the past four months, she and Abbey have worked on creating many replacement behaviors and, more importantly, Abbey is with Shellie to stay. This video, Abbey's lack of mutilation after four months of behavior modification implementation, shows his progression with Shellie and the help she received via distance consulting. In the short run, it may be more expensive to consult with a professional. In the long run though, it is quite the opposite, as Abbey’s case demonstrates so resoundingly. When we know better, we do better, and there is a lot more room to do better in the quality of care we give to these incredible, loyal, intelligent, and social creatures. n
The Animal Behavior Center [Video File]. (2018, July 1). Baseline behavior of Abbey, the mutilating cockatoo. Available at: youtu.be/Pm9wAkkCV40 The Animal Behavior Center [Video File]. (2018, July 1). Abbey's lack of mutilation after four months of behavior modiﬁcation implementation. Available at: youtu.be/C6CF3w0D2qY Lara Joseph is the owner of Sylvania, Ohio-based The Animal Behavior Center LLC (theanimalbehaviorcenter.com), an international educational center that focuses on teaching people how to work with animals using positive reinforcement and approaches in applied behavior analysis. She travels internationally giving workshops, lectures, and provides online, live-streaming memberships on animal behavior, training and enrichment. She also sits on the advisory board for All Species Consulting, The Indonesian Parrot Project, and is director of animal training for Nature’s Nursery, a wildlife rehabilitation center in Whitehouse, Ohio. She is a published author, writes regularly for several periodicals, and will also be a guest lecturer in the upcoming college course Zoo Biology, Animal Nutrition, Behavior and Diagnostics taught by Dr. Jason Crean at St. Xavier University, Chicago, Illinois.
BARKS from the Guild/September 2018
Equine Social Structure
Kathie Gregory examines the two groups of social organization found in Equidae, including
group structure, dynamics and relationships, and debates whether hierarchies within
groups actually exist
quidae have evolved into two groups of social organization over time. One group consists of Grevy's zebra (E Grevyi) and wild asses (E africanus, E hemionus); the other consists of the horse (Equus ferus), plains zebra (Equus quagga), and mountain zebra (Equus zebra). In terms of relationships, Grevy's zebra and wild asses tend to live alone amongst each other. Personal bonds between animals generally do not exist, other than between a mare and her foal. These species may or may not be in groups. Groups consist of different sizes and are made up of different ages and sex. They are variable and changes to the group may happen every few hours. Male stallions can have extremely large territories. Territorial boundaries are marked by dung piles to identify the territory, rather than to warn intruders. A stallionâ€™s territory is a mating territory, so stallions are generally tolerant of other stallions in their territory. Disputes and fights are over females in estrus, typically when the female is near to boundary lines, and the fighting is between neighboring stallions. Once she has made a decision to walk into a territory the stallions stop fighting, with the resident of the territory following the mare, and the other stallion remaining at the boundary line. These species split up for part of the year, coming together for the mating season. The horse, plains zebra and mountain zebra, meanwhile, form permanent family groups, with less permanent stallion, bachelor, and peer groups. Young leave family groups at defined ages. There are no established territories, and movement is seasonal with the group relocating together. These species do not live in changeable temporary groups, neither are there solitary territorial males (Berger, 1977). Observations of feral and free range horses consistently show they belong to the group of social organization that form permanent groups. There are many preconceptions and myths around how horses naturally live, dating back to equine studies from the 1960s. Observations were accurate. However, there were, and still are, even in modern studies, incorrect interpretations of information. Firstly, in the 1960s, the human perception of animals was narrower and distinct in that their behavior was considered to be either dominant or submissive. This resulted in observational studies being written from that perspective rather than as a purely factual account. It is human nature to explain why things happen, and thus the popular viewpoint of dominance and submission was applied to what was observed. This led to the general public's perceived understanding of equine behavior. Some still believe dominance theory today, and studies, blogs, books etc., will be written from that perspective. Scientists have long tried to establish clear hierarchies when observing groups of horses and other animals. Thus, any interaction between two horses may be interpreted as one being dominant, the other submissive, and dominance hierarchies emerge as
ÂŠ Can Stock Photo/haak78
Scientists have long tried to establish clear hierarchies when observing groups of horses and other animals, yet studies often report that disagreements between horses in a social group are low key, with individuals being tolerant of each other
a theory. However, this simple, tidy explanation for what is a very complex social structure is incorrect. Any group needs cohesion and give and take in order to function effectively, and the lack of understanding of what was being observed led to this incorrect interpretation. As far back as the 1970s, there were those who found problems with this theory (Kiley-Worthington, 1977; Syme & Syme, 1979), but they were largely ignored, and the neat, easily measured dominance hierarchies informed the majority of observational reports. A further issue is that the definition of the terms, dominance and submission, is not clear or definitive. Rather, it is open to the individual interpretation of the researcher. Some define dominant as having greater reproductive success, a higher ranking, or priority access to food and water. There is no evidence to support these types of dominance and many studies have shown that these perceived goals horses are claimed to vie for simply do not exist. Time and time again, researchers report that there is no clear correlation between these supposed issues and dominance.
Environment and Habitat
Data is also dependent on what is being studied. Ethology is the study of species in their natural environment, but some studies have not adhered to this standard. Many studied equine groups that were not natural. Human intervention meant that the sex, age, and numbers within the groups were not what would be seen BARKS from the Guild/September 2018
Studies by Rees (2017) show that there is no one mare who leads the group, and that any horse, including the youngsters, may initiate a change in movement or direction. The overriding factor for who initiates a change is driven by whoever is the most motivated. in the wild. Restricted and non-natural habitats are also an issue. These influence the social structure of the group, and subsequently any findings cannot be an accurate account of how equines live. Further, as is in the case of the first horse behavior study on New Forest Ponies (Tyler, 1972), the situation was manipulated to specifically cause altercations, e.g.: “Hay was supplied to the ponies in winter to provide competition, so that large numbers of threats could be recorded in a short time - far more than would be observed during 'normal grazing’.” In studies that have not been subject to manipulation, I have yet to find reports of dominance hierarchy. Disagreements are low key, with horses being tolerant of each other. This is true even in studies where food and drink restriction is part of the study parameters. The exception is studies that have starved horses before conducting experiments to determine ranking and dominance, resulting in strong agonistic responses between the horses in competition for food. These studies are inherently flawed because they manipulate and distort natural behavior. They also show a human flaw in that setting up a situation for a desired response is not a scientific study. It is impossible to draw any conclusions on how group social structure naturally functions from this type of study. However, this is exactly what has informed our perception of the social structure and interactions of the horse. Generally speaking, feral groups of horses are those that do not have human intervention, except where fences are put up to exclude the population from richer grazing land reserved for cattle. However, there are exceptions. Feral horses that live in areas that can only support so many, and without predators, can result in over population, necessitating human intervention. Free ranging horses, such as Exmoor Ponies, tend to have more human input and management, for example. Studies that observe feral populations without human intervention gather the most accurate data on social structure and interactions. The data then needs impartial interpretation, without attributing the observer’s beliefs to it, in order to understand how equines live. What has been determined from these studies is that equines form lasting social relationships within long-term family groups. Changes are due to few situations: • Youngsters leave their family group of their own accord, between the ages of two and four. • Those that do not leave by choice are eventually chased away, usually by their father. • Death of a group member. • A group is taken over by a competing stallion, the existing stallion is expelled.
Family Group Structure
The first incarnation of a group leader stated it was always the dominant stallion who leads the group. Some studies, however, found this not to be the case, stating that a dominant mare leads the group, deferring to the stallion when the group is threatened. Other labels are “alpha” and “boss.” A possible reason for some studies observing a specific individual who initiates movement 40
BARKS from the Guild/September 2018
Photo © Susan Nilson
Studies have shown that perceived goals horses are claimed to vie for, such as greater reproductive success, a higher ranking, or priority access to food and water, simply do not exist
could be due to those populations not being feral or not being a natural group composition. When there are very small groups, it is likely that an older, experienced horse initiates more movement than younger ones. These factors make it look like horses have one specific leader, but this is unnatural equine behavior due to the influence of external conditions and incorrect to apply these findings to all horse populations. Studies by Rees (2017) show that there is no one mare who leads the group, and that any horse, including the youngsters, may initiate a change in movement or direction. The overriding factor for who initiates a change is driven by whoever is the most motivated. If a horse is thirsty, he will initiate a move to the drinking area. If a horse is particularly scared of something, that horse will move away from what scares him before others, thus initiating movement away. Youngsters wander off and investigate, prompting others to be inquisitive and see what they have found. Sometimes a horse initiates a move and no one follows; the horse may try several times, and may or may not be successful. Motivation drives movement, and whether other horses follow or not is based on whether it is safe, they have a specific motivation to remain, or are happy to follow along. Bourjade, Thierry, Maumy and Petit (2009) have reported the same in Przewalski's horses, as have Krueger, Flauger, Farmer and Hemelrijkc, (2013) in feral horses.
There is usually one stallion in a family group, along with a small number of mares (from one to five, the average being three), and their young (Feist & McCullough, 1976). A number of following studies observed the same groupings. However, Pusey and Packer (1997) observed groups of two to 20 or more horses. A study of the Kaimanawa wild horse groups in New Zealand from 1994 to 1997 observed stable groups of between two and twelve breeding adults, observing one to 11 mares. Changes to the groups were small: 83 percent of mares remained in the same group over a three year study period. Stallion numbers within groups ranged from one to four: 88 percent remained in their group for the duration of the study period. The average number of breeding adults in a group was between two and 8.4. (Linklater, Cameron, Stafford & Veltman, 2000). Mares usually stay with their family group for life.
Peer groups are made up of immature youngsters of both sexes, who eventually join a family group. Bachelor groups consist of young males that have not yet found their own family group. Older stallions that have been displaced from a group may form their own stallion group, or may join a bachelor group.
Typically, each horse will have one or two close friendships within a group, regardless of the size of the group. They spend more of their time with their friends than away from them, and engage in a number of reciprocal activities (Feh, 1987). Notable observations include: • Agonistic interactions increase when there is social stress. • There is also no evidence to support territorial dominance. • Horses defend their group, and mares in estrus, not their habitat. All in all, there is a wide range of variability between horse group sizes, composition, and the age when adolescents leave the family group. To some extent, group size is determined by population density. A more dense population of horses leads to smaller groups. Environment also influences the size of the group. A United States Geological Survey study (Ransom & Cade, 2009) reported that larger groups were found in more open, larger ranges, and smaller groups were observed where the habitat has dense vegetation or trees, and that predators may exert a third influence on group size, with highly predated areas giving rise to larger family groups of horses to increase safety. n Kathie Gregory is a qualified animal behavior consultant, presenter and author who specializes in advanced cognition and emotional intelligence. Passionate about raising standards and awareness in how we teach and work with animals, she has developed Freewill TeachingTM (freewillteaching.com), a concept that provides the framework for animals to enjoy life without compromising their own free will. Her time is divided between working with clients, mentoring, and writing. Her first book, A Tale of Two Horses: a passion for free-will teaching, was published in 2015, and she is currently writing her second book about bringing up a puppy using freewill teaching.
Berger, J. (1977). Organizational systems and dominance in feral horses in the Grand Canyon. Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology (2) 2 131-146. Available at: link.springer.com/article/10.1007/BF00361898 Bourjade, M., Thierry, B., Maumy, M., Petit, O. (2009). Decision-Making in Przewalski Horse (Equus ferus przewalskii) is Driven by the Ecological Contexts of Collective Movements. Ethology 115 (4) 321 – 330. Available at: bit.ly/2uwoWVf Feh, C. (1987). Etude du développement des relations sociales chez des étalons de race Camargue et de leur contribution à l’organisation sociale du groupe. University of Aix-Marseille, France: Thèse d’université Feist, J. & McCullough, D. (1976). Behaviour patterns and communications in feral horses. Zeitschrift für Tierpsychologie 41 (4) 337-71. Available at: bit.ly/2L7BFbi Kiley-Worthington, M. (1997). Communication in Horses: Cooperation and Competition. Eco Research Centre, University of Exeter, United Kingdom: Publication 19 Krueger, K., Flauger, B., Farmer, K., & Hemelrijkc, C. (2013). Movement initiation in groups of feral horses. Behavioural Processes (103) 91–101. Available at: bit.ly/2Ngf4Xw Linklater, W.L., Cameron, E.Z., Staﬀord, K.J., & Veltman, C.J. (2000). Social and spatial structure and range use by Kaimanawa wild horses (Equus caballus: Equidae). New Zealand Journal of Ecology 24 (2) 139152. Available at: bit.ly/2uunGln Pusey, A.E., & Packer, C. (1997). The ecology of relationships, in Krebs, J.R., and Davies, N.B., eds. Behavioral Ecology – An evolutionary approach p. 254–283. Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishing Ransom, J. I., & Cade, B. S., (2009). Quantifying Equid Behavior – A Research Ethogram for Free-Roaming Feral Horses. U.S. Department of the Interior U.S. Geological Survey. Available at: on.doi.gov/2IEO4lu Rees, L. (2017). Horses in Company. London, United Kingdom: J.A. Allen Syme, G.T., & Syme, L.A. (1979). Social Structure in Farm Animals. Amsterdam, Netherlands: Elsevier Tyler, S.J. (1972). Behaviour and Social Organisation of New Forest ponies. Animal Behaviour Monographs (5) 2 87-196. Available at: bit.ly/2LdMg1b
Klingel, H. (1974). The Behaviour of Ungulates and its relation to management. The Papers of an International Symposium held at The University of Calgary, Alberta, Canada 2-5 November 1971: Paper No. 5. A Comparison of the Social Behaviour of the Equidae. IUCN Morges, Switzerland: Ungulate Behaviour Papers. Available at: portals.iucn.org/library/eﬁles/documents/NS-024-1.pdf Skipper, L. (n.d.) The Myth of Dominance. Available at: ebta.co.uk/dominance-ls.html
BARKS from the Guild/September 2018
Core and Non-Core Vaccinations In the second part of her two-part article, Lauri Bowen-Vaccare highlights specific
vaccinations, depending on the region, that are usually required to ensure dogs
stay healthy during a stay at a day care or boarding facility n the first part of this article, I discussed the importance of vaccination protocols and wellness exams in keeping dogs safe and healthy in boarding and day care environments. I will now go into further detail regarding the vaccinations that are usually required for a dog to attend a day care or boarding facility, as well as some of those that are region-dependent and are not usually required.
These include: o Rabies (required to board and/or attend day care): • A severe and often fatal viral disease that causes acute inflammation of the brain and central nervous system in humans and other mammals. The primary way the rabies virus is transmitted to dogs in the United States is through a bite from a disease carrier: foxes, raccoons, skunks, and bats. • Rabies is zoonotic and can thus be transmitted to other species of animals and humans. o Distemper (required to board and/or attend day care): • A highly contagious and sometimes fatal viral disease that is seen in dogs worldwide and a wide variety of animal families, including domestic and wild species of dogs, coyotes, foxes, pandas, wolves, ferrets, skunks, raccoons, and large cats, as well as pinnipeds, some primates, and a variety of other species. • Animals usually become infected by direct contact with virus particles from the secretions of other infected animals (generally via inhalation). Indirect transmission (e.g. carried on dishes or other objects) is not common because the virus does not survive for long in the environment. The virus can be shed by dogs for several weeks after recovery. o Adenovirus (Hepatitis) (required to board and/or attend day care): • A viral disease that is caused by the canine adenovirus CAV-1, a type of DNA virus that causes upper respiratory tract infections. This virus targets the functional parts of the organs, notably the liver, kidneys, eyes and cells that line the interior surface of the blood vessels. • Type 2 (CAV-2) causes respiratory disease in dogs and is one of the infectious agents commonly associated with canine infectious tracheobronchitis, which is also known as “kennel cough.” Canine infectious tracheobronchitis is usually spread through coughing. o Parvo (required to board and/or attend day care): • A very contagious and potentially fatal viral disease seen in dogs. Most commonly, parvovirus causes gastroenteritis, or inflammation of the stomach and intestines. • Infection can occur directly through contact with infected dogs, but also through indirect contact with contaminated surfaces and objects. • It is estimated that parvovirus is fatal in 16-48 percent of cases. Consult your vet as soon as possible if your dog shows signs of parvovirus. • It can survive for several months (some experts say as long as two years) in the environment, and is also resistant to many disinfectants.
These include: o Bordetella (required to board and/or attend day care): • A highly contagious respiratory disease among dogs 42
BARKS from the Guild/September 2018
© Can Stock Photo/Feverpitched
Some vaccines are usually required for dogs to be able to attend a day care or stay in a boarding facility, while others are region-dependent and are not always required
that is typified by inflammation of the trachea and bronchi. This disease is found throughout the world. • Young puppies often suffer the most severe complications that can result from this disease since they have immature immune systems. Also at increased risk are older dogs, who may have decreased immune capabilities, pregnant bitches, who also have lowered immunity, and dogs with preexisting respiratory diseases. • Many veterinarians have begun recommending the oral form of this vaccination since it has proven effective and safe, and contains only the Bordetella antibodies. The oral vaccination is good for a year. • Some vets may also recommend the injectable form, which is also good for a year, although many have moved away from this form to prevent an abundance of injections that a dog receives. • The intranasal form is not recommended for dogs whose core vaccination protocols, as designed by their personal vet, include adenovirus and/or parainfluenza, since it also contains adenovirus and parainfluenza. • Over vaccinating does not provide extra protection. • The intranasal form has proven not as effective for dogs who have been previously exposed to or vaccinated for Bordetella, and future vaccination for Bordetella should be oral or injectable. • It is not uncommon for mild to severe health and/or behavioral problems to develop due to over vaccinating, including contracting the disease for which the animal has been vaccinated. • The intranasal form can irritate a dog’s nasal passages, causing sneezing, therefore expelling much of the vaccination into the air. o Parainfluenza (usually required to board and/or attend day care): • Often a regionally-specific vaccination that may or may not be part of a veterinarian’s core vaccination protocol for their patients. Owners should discuss their dog’s lifestyle with their vet about a customized vaccination protocol. • The virus that causes dog flu, Influenza Type A
Young puppies often suffer the most severe complications that can result from [Bordetella] since they have immature immune systems. (H3N8), was first identified in Florida in 2004. It primarily infects the respiratory system and is extremely contagious. • May or may not be necessary, depending on where you live, your dog’s lifestyle and the boarding facility. Speak with your vet about a customized vaccination protocol. • Often included in veterinarians’ individual vaccination protocols as needed. • Should not be given if the dog receives the intranasal form of the combo Bordetella vaccination which also contains parainfluenza and adenovirus. o Avian Influenza Virus (regionally-dependent as of August 2016: may be required to board and/or attend day care): • As of 2016, this is a regionally-specific vaccination that may or may not be part of a veterinarian’ core vaccination protocol for their patients. Owners should discuss their dog’s lifestyle with their vets about a customized vaccination protocol. • A highly contagious respiratory disease that was introduced to the United States in 2007, origins were traced back to dogs who were imported from Korea. • May or may not be necessary, depending on where you live, your dog’s lifestyle, and the boarding facility. Speak with your vet about a customized vaccination protocol. o Leptospirosis (may be regionally-dependent, but generally should not be required to board or attend day care because the risk of acquiring at a boarding facility should be extremely low): • Often a regionally-specific vaccination. Owners should discuss their dog’s lifestyle with their vets. • A bacterial infection which dogs acquire when subspecies of the Leptospira interrogans penetrate the skin and spread through the body by way of the bloodstream. • Mainly occurs in subtropical, tropical, and wet environments, and is more prevalent in marshy/muddy areas which have stagnant surface water and are frequented by wildlife. Heavily irrigated pastures are also common sources of infection. Dogs will typically come into contact with the leptospira bacteria in infected water, soil, or mud, while swimming, passing through, or drinking contaminated water, or from coming into contact with urine from an infected animal. This last method of contact might take place in the wild. Hunting and sporting dogs, dogs that live near wooded areas, and dogs that live on or near farms are at an increased risk of acquiring this bacteria. • This bacteria is zoonotic, meaning it can be transmitted to humans and other species of animals. Children are most at risk of acquiring this bacterial infection from an infected pet. • May or may not be necessary, depending on where you live, and your dog’s lifestyle. Speak with your vet about a customized vaccination protocol. o Lyme (should not be required to board or attend day care): • Often a regionally-specific vaccination that may or may not be part of a veterinarian’s core vaccination protocol for their patients. Owners should discuss their dog’s lifestyle with their vet. • Lyme disease is transmitted by the deer tick (blacklegged tick) and a small group of other closely related ticks. The deer tick is small and may bite animals and people without being detected. Infection typically occurs after the Borrelia-carrying tick has been attached to the dog for at least two to three days. Ticks become infected with the bacteria by feeding on infected mice and other small animals. When an infected tick bites other animals, it can transmit the bacteria to these animals. • There is no evidence that Lyme disease is spread by direct contact with infected animals. However, keep in mind that ticks can hitch a ride home on your pets and move on to the humans in the household. • Risk Factors: Dogs that spend a lot of time outdoors, especially in the woods, bush, or areas of tall grass are most commonly infected with Lyme disease.
• May or may not be necessary, depending on where you live, and your dog’s lifestyle. Speak with your vet about a customized vaccination protocol. o Coronavirus (should not be required to board and/or attend day care): • A contagious intestinal disease found worldwide in dogs. Infection is generally considered to be a relatively mild disease with sporadic symptoms, or none at all. If an infection occurs simultaneously with a viral parvo infection or an infection caused by other intestinal pathogens, the consequences can be more serious. There have been some deaths reported in vulnerable puppies. • The most common source of a coronavirus infection is exposure to feces from an infected dog. The viral strands can remain in the body and shed into the feces for up to six months. • Stress caused by over-intensive training, overcrowding and generally unsanitary conditions increase a dog’s susceptibility to an infection. • Vaccination is not generally recommended. n
American Veterinary Medical Association: avma.org/Pages/home.aspx American Animal Hospital Association: aaha.org/default.aspx Dr. Jean Dodds: hemopet.org/education/jean-doddsveterinarian.html Dr. Ronald Schultz: vetmed.wisc.edu/vaccination-guidelines-2016 PetMD: petmd.com Lauri Bowen-Vaccare ABCDT is the owner of Warren, Kentuckybased Believe In Dog, LLC (believeindog.weebly.com) and is an honors graduate of Animal Behavior College, with a specialty in training shelter dogs. Her focus is on the dog-human team, and she specializes in reactivity, resource guarding, fearful and timid dogs, bringing outside dogs in, and outside pet dogs. She also advises and assists trainers who want to cross over to force-free training.
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BARKS from the Guild/September 2018
Behind the Scenes
In the first of a four-part article, Frania Shelley-Grielen addresses the lack of regulation in
the pet care and services industry, and wonders how standards can be improved for pets
and their owners
© Can Stock Photo/JB325
© Can Stock Photo/littlebell
Many pet owners contract out a portion of pet care responsibilities to try to ensure their pets’ needs are met as much as possible, but in an unregulated industry, standards of knowledge, skill and care may vary
In cases where regulations do exist for pet care facilities or breeding operations, they mainly address physical space, housing and sanitation as opposed to staff education or qualifications
mericans love pets. We love them so much that most of us, or 68 percent of us, live with them. That’s 85 million families according to the 2017-2018 National Pet Owners’ Survey (American Pet Products Association, 2018). Cats are our number one pet because we usually have more than one, but more of us have dogs. That makes 60 million dog-owning families with 90 million dogs at home and 47 million cat-owning families with 94 million cats at home. With so many pets in so many doggedly devoted and cat caring families the chances of everyone having enough time to train, groom, walk and care for them with our hectic days and busy schedules guarantees that, if it hasn’t already, the 70 billion dollar pet services industry will become a part of who is taking care of your pet. But, have you ever wondered about the pet service providers? The people who work with your pets? How did they learn to do what they do? Are they as qualified and experienced as you expect or as they say they are? How would you know? How can you know? There is no question that pet owners who support the pet care industry (i.e. the walkers, sitters, groomers, trainers, day cares, boarding kennels, catteries and more) are what one might consider to be the “more responsible pet owner” who depends on these services to supplement the care they give their pets. Responsible pet owners believe that part of loving pets is doing everything possible to meet their needs; that there is a comfort in feeding the cat looking for breakfast before that first cup of coffee, or in the crack of dawn rush out the door so the dog can sniff the morning dew and relieve a full bladder from the night before. Loving pets means searching for the best cat litter, dog food,
puzzle feeder or that last walk of the day before bed even when you are exhausted. These pet owners are in all likelihood the ones who are willing to pay for services they believe match the standard they provide for their own animal. Contracting out a portion of pet care responsibilities does not just mean that a pet’s needs will be met, but that the owner will feel a greater peace of mind to accompany the transaction. This is because not always being able to be there for our pets can cause more than passing concern. We worry about them, and pet care services provide relief – for the cat owner who knows the cat needs the litter box cleaned early in the day and likes to be fed on schedule, or the dog owner who stresses that their dog is bored, lonely or needs a good walk
BARKS from the Guild/September 2018
In the United States, no training of any kind is required to work in any capacity with an animal, except as a veterinarian or veterinary technician. With no educational requirements and no guarantee that the training a pet care worker may have received is force-free or welfare based, workers may instead rely on their own intuition, guesswork, and trial and error to figure out how to do their jobs – with your pets on the receiving end of any error.
or two when they are at work for 12 hours a day. We want humane care and training for our pets, where they are safe, are treated humanely and are well-looked after. This is what we are paying for, or so we think. Owners select pet care services believing they have chosen the best available at a reasonable price in a convenient location. Drawn in by websites and ads overflowing with fluffy puppies, dogs at play, contented cats, devoted handlers and slogans like, “So many butts to sniff, so little time,” “A lot of fun, maybe a snooze, a lotta love,” “Our mission: to enhance the physical and emotional health of every canine client,” promise positive pampering and more. Providers know their customers and are all too eager to reassure you that you have picked the best of the best and your pet will receive only the most tender loving care and handling. They make our schedules so much easier and are a breeze to use, even collecting our pets at the beginning of a day and bringing them back to us at night, if we so desire. In my experience, however, there can be a decided disconnect between what is being advertised and what is actually delivered. A closer look at the pet services industries shows a multibillion dollar business where, in some cases, the promise rather than the requirement of good animal welfare practices keep it healthy and robust. New York City is one of the largest cities of pet owners with an estimated 1.1 million pets and a pet services industry with "some of the fastest growth rates of any industry” in both the city and the nation. “From 2000 to 2010, employment in the pet-related industry grew by more than 30 percent locally and nationally, reflecting both growth in the pet population and increased spending per pet by households. We further estimate that spending in this industry in New York City exceeded $1.5 billion in 2010 or roughly $1,350 per pet." (New York City Economic Development Corporation, 2012). And as the industry grows, so does the need for workers: “Employment of animal care and service workers is projected to grow 22 percent from 2016 to 2026, much faster than the average for all occupations.” (US Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2018).
What many pet owners may not be aware of is the simple fact that pet care services are currently a virtually unregulated field, from food and retail products to the services supplied by people to pets. And that this lack of regulation combined with for profit business, can make for a less than ideal combination for pets. In the United States, no training of any kind is required to work in any capacity with an animal, except as a veterinarian or veterinary technician. With no educational requirements and no guarantee that the training a pet care worker may have received is force-free or welfare based, workers may instead rely on their own intuition, guesswork, and trial and error to figure out how to do their jobs – with your pets on the receiving end of any error. The misguided belief by some in the need for “pack leaders” and the misguided application of dominance theory with little or no formal understanding of how this does not apply to dogs’ social structure (or cats) can make even a dog walk a miserable experience for the dog who may find himself being “corrected” for his eagerness to get out the door to relieve himself. Meanwhile, where regulations do exist for pet care facilities or breeding operations, they mainly address physical space, housing and sanitation rather than staffing requirements.
People who enter the pet services field are often attracted to it by a love for animals and a desire to be surrounded by them. The reality is, however, that pet care services can be more about cleaning and disinfecting and less about dog kisses and purring kittens. Scooping litter boxes, picking up dog waste, wiping up urine and vomit, cleaning cages, changing water bowls and bottles, and scheduled feeding times are all essential in the world of animal care and can take up significant amounts of time. Manual labor and offensive odors come with the terri-
pet care A Constructional Approach
Unfortunately, the pet training industry is entirely unregulated, meaning that anyone can say they are a trainer or behavior consultant. As a result, those who call themselves dog trainers, or even “dog whisperers,” may still be utilizing punitive methods, such as disc throwing, loud correctional “no’s” and, in some cases, more extreme tools such as shock collars, choke chains and prong collars. All of these are, sadly, still at large. They are training tools that, by design, have one purpose: to reduce or stop behavior through pain and fear. This, as opposed to a constructional approach where operant behaviors are built, and problematic emotional reactions are changed via positive reinforcement and counterconditioning protocols. “Humane, modern animal training relies on science-based protocols: ‘Within the field of applied behavior analysis (ABA), there is a 40-year-old standard that promotes the most positive, least intrusive behavior reduction procedures (also known as the Least Restrictive Behavior Intervention, LRBI).’ (Friedman, 2010). Regardless, there are trainers who elect not to move into this arena, and/or gain informed consent from clients regarding methods and equipment used. They may still be members of professional institutes, associations and councils because many organizations do not hold their members accountable for the training methods they use. Consequently, it is easy to be fooled when searching for a training or behavior professional.”
- Pet Professional Guild (2016) Open Letter to Veterinarians on Referrals to Training and Behavior Professionals
tory. And what about those dog kisses and purring kittens? While individuals may expect that working with companion animals is similar to their experience of caring for a familiar pet, the reality is, that without the actual relationship, the work of caring for someone else’s pet means that you are, initially at least, a stranger to that animal. And strangers are scary stuff to some pets. Perhaps the dog may not want to walk with you, will be too frightened to fully relieve himself on the first walk or two, or pull to get home because he is afraid. The cat may hide away or hiss at you, and it can take time to build up your trust account. Bathing, clippers and nail trims can present a whole new set of scary experiences as far as some dogs are concerned. In the same way, other people’s animals may not respond to groomers or handlers with ease, comfort or familiarity for any number of reasons, including being fearful of a new person, situation, and/or environment, or of the handler’s uninformed approach. On the back of this, service providers without the requisite knowledge or skills may blame pets for not responding the way they would like them to. Dogs that do not want to walk because of fear of improper handling techniques may be labeled “stubborn,” cats that are scared and hiss may be called “mean” and dogs that are ineffectively trained may be pigeonholed as “unintelligent.” The less the pet care worker knows about correct handling, training, behavior and welfare, the more likely the stress level will increase for both pet and worker. And this lack of knowledge can get dangerous. Obviously I am not talking about PPG members, all of whom practice PPG’s Professional Ethics and Guiding Principles that state shock, pain, choke, fear, physical force, or compulsion-based methods are never employed to train or care for a pet, and many of whom have top level credentials and run exBARKS from the Guild/September 2018
...have you ever wondered about the pet service providers? The people who work with your pets? How did they learn to do what they do? Are they as qualified and experienced as you expect or as they say they are? How would you know? How can you know? cellent boarding and day care facilities (for just one example, see The Right Environment, BARKS from the Guild, September 2016, pp. 39-41). Having said that, as I have already stated, when looking at the bigger picture, pet service providers may not always be the experts we would like them to be. And they don’t have to be. Because there are no regulatory requirements for formal education or licensing, even a rudimentary knowledge of animal behavior and stress-free handling may not be required or trained by a pet care service establishment. Rather, “liking” animals and good customer service skills may be what employers are looking for in a new hire. For the individual that wants to learn on their own, there is a wealth of online material and popular literature on animal behavior and training, some of which offers misleading, conflicting, inaccurate and outdated information. This includes force-based, compulsion training (also known as “result” or “balanced” training) and handling methods relying on out-of-date dominance theories and punishment devices such as prong, choke or shock collars (also known as “training” or “e” collars). Research into aversive methods of dog training show that dogs will typically exhibit fear-based behaviors around trainers who use force and that other problem behaviors, such as aggression, may result (hardly the sort of outcome the dog owner is hoping for or paying for). Fearful behavior itself is often misunderstood and may even be offered as evidence by trainers that their methods proffer “results.”
Persons wanting to learn dog grooming at an actual brick and mortar school will find courses that can be completed in just two or three months, which, in my opinion, is not nearly long enough to develop serious expertise before handling sharpened scissors and electric clippers. Such a short training period and lack of instruction in body language, stress-free restraint or handling methods risks an over reliance on physical restraints such as muzzles, ties and aversive handling. Stress of this sort may cause a dog to submit to grooming initially but lead to more defensive resistance on successive grooming sessions. Such approaches to dog training and grooming are incredibly stressful for pets, and can, sadly, also go horribly wrong. In the second part of this article I will look more into education, internships, and canine behavior based on my personal experience and in the context of dog day care centers in New York City. n
pet care References
American Pet Products Association. (2018). National Pet Owners Survey. Stamford, CT: APPA New York City Economic Development Corporation. (2012, February) nycedc.com/blog-entry/new-york-city-s-pet-population Pet Professional Guild. (2016). Open Letter to Veterinarians on Referrals to Training and Behavior Professionals. Available at: petprofessionalguild.com/Open-letter-to-veterinarians-on-referrals -to-training-and-behavior-professionals US Bureau of Labor Statistics. (2018). Animal Care and Service Workers. Available at: bls.gov/ooh/personal-care-and-service/animal-care-and-service -workers.htm
Pet Professional Guild. (2018). Professional Ethics and Guiding Principles. Available at: petprofessionalguild.com/PPGs-Guiding -Principles Pet Professional Guild Member Directory: petprofessionalguild.com/Zip-Code-Search Sherwin, N. (2016, September). The Right Environment. BARKS from the Guild (20) 39-41. Available at: issuu.com/petprofessionalguild/docs/bftg_sept_2016_online/39 Frania Shelley-Grielen is a New York City-based professional animal behavior consultant, dog trainer and educator who holds a Master’s in animal behavior from Hunter College, New York City, and a Master’s in urban planning from New York University. She is a licensed pet care technician instructor, a registered therapy dog handler, and a certiﬁed Doggone Safe bite safety instructor, and specializes in behavior modiﬁcation work and training with cats, dogs and birds and humane management for urban wildlife. She is also the author of Cats and Dogs; Living with and Looking at Companion Animals from their Point of View and founded AnimalBehaviorist.us (animalbehaviorist.us) in 2009 to share her work. She has also taught the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals’ (ASPCA) fundamentals of dog care course for the Houlton Institute in San Francisco, California where she is on the zoology faculty. She has worked on research projects at the Wildlife Conservation Society, the American Museum of Natural History and the ASPCA in New York City.
BARKS from the Guild/September 2018
Critical to Success
In the first of a two-part article, Niki Tudge outlines her recommended training plan and
how she breaks down client visits into lessons within each individual session to ensure
n the client consulting process, no matter how you normally proceed or whatever your individual consulting process is, the first step will always be a client interview of some sort. Once you have completed this interview and reviewed all the anecdotal information, you will then either feel comfortable that you have a reliable contingency statement, or you will feel the need to further investigate what is reinforcing the problematic behavior specific to that case. It is critical to success that the evoking or eliciting antecedent and/or the pertinent consequences that are providing the reinforcement are known prior to embarking on a training plan. Feeling comfortable about your contingency statement will help you reliably discuss with your clients the potential scope and length of your training plan, what will be included, when it will take place, what the training will look like, and who will be responsible for which components. Your training plan will then be compartmentalized into individual lessons scheduled with the client across a given period. For example, I may structure my training plan to include eight lessons beginning with two lessons each week and then progressing to just © Can Stock Photo/mheim3011 one lesson per week as the client becomes more competent across For training to be professional and effective for both clients and their dogs, it needs the key skills and knowledge required. to be done correctly, with a full plan in place from the outset The topography of each lesson will be determined by the individual sessions required, both to build competency around the necLesson Plan essary skills and knowledge for the client and their pet, and to ensure We will now look at a typical lesson plan taken from our Six-Week Trainskills are introduced at the right time and in a clear and concise manner ing Plan (detailed in Figure 1-1 on page 49). Before we arrive at the to prevent confusion and blurring across the lines. For example, profesclient’s home we need to have any important documents ready and sionals often broach three or four topics in a lesson with a client but do make sure we have all the relevant training equipment. Preparation is not clearly define where each one starts and finishes. This can comessential. It is very unprofessional to arrive at a training appointment pound the difficulty of the training and lead to frustration and mistakes. and then realize we have forgotten the muzzle or handout we need to Scenarios such as training methods, capturing, targeting and luring, or conduct the lesson effectively. However, if it does happen, we have one dimensions such as distance and duration, can quickly become a blur to of two choices: a) omit that skill session from the lesson, or b) train the pet owners if our sessions are not clearly defined through subject matskill without all the necessary tools. Neither of these options is conter and the start and finish of each session. ducive to getting outstanding training results. In this article, I will focus on lesson and session planning. A training I firmly believe that, if training is to be professional and effective, it lesson is the period of time we, the pet professionals, are contracted to needs to be done correctly, and that means having all the necessary provide training services to our clients, while a lesson may contain sevtools and documents on hand and prepared. During our preparation we eral short training sessions on separate and/or interrelated topics. We need to try to picture the actual training lesson and the planned sesneed to make sure we run these sessions as effectively as possible. sions. What are the individual training tasks we will focus on? What will Most of our lessons are service products that we sell. They are inwe say, and how will we explain the “how,” “what” and “why” of our crements of time. They are generally 1-11⁄2 hours long. In some cases, training plan? How will we demonstrate the actual skill? What questions the service product may be sold as package, i.e. groupings of individual do we anticipate the client will ask and how will we answer them? How lessons. These should be prepaid, and I recommend that they qualify will we handle any problems that may arise? the client for a small, pre-pay discount. Finally, we must be sure we completely understand our material so Scenarios such as training methods, capturing, we can competently demonstrate everything we expect the client to targeting and luring, or dimensions such as learn. We cannot just wing it when teaching a paying client. This would distance and duration, can quickly become a blur be highly irresponsible and very unprofessional.
to our pet owners if our sessions are not clearly defined through subject matter and the start and finish of each session. 48
BARKS from the Guild/September 2018
Quick Preparation Checklist 1. 2.
Do we have your training road map? Do we have our training plan?
consulting Figure 1-1: The Six-Week Training Plan Detailing Skills and Theory
Session # 1
Knowledge (Teaching Theory) x x
x x x x x x
x x x x x x x x
Review current cues and skill levels Overview of training philosophy o Management - purpose o Training - how o Relationship - why Review equipment use Theory of name game, hand feeding and mental stimulation exercises Theory for including play Theory for using harness Practical application of new skills Kongs and toys ʹ purpose and use Theory of muzzle training Theory of crate training dŚĞŽƌǇŽĨ͞ůĞƚ͛ƐŐŽ͟ Theory of leash walking
Clicker mechanics, timing and purpose Hand feeding exercise Name game process Play activities Fitting and desensitizing a harness Practical application and context of new skills Practical application of Kongs and toys
x x x x x
Recap of homework Muzzle training Crate training >Ğƚ͛ƐŐŽ Walk nicely
Theory of sit and down acquisition Theory of maintain
x x x
Recap of homework Sit/down Maintain
Theory of counterconditioning and desensitization Recap on leash walking ʹ Oops, what do I do now
Practice trials Practice trials
Theory of relax Recap of counterconditioning and desensitization Recap of sit/down/maintain
x x x
Recap theory of counterconditioning Recap theory or conditioned relax
Relax game practice (end of session) Review of crate training On the road o >Ğƚ͛ƐŐŽ o Play with tug toys o Leash walking o Sit/down/maintain o Counterconditioning exercises On the road o Counterconditioning exercises o WƌĂĐƚŝĐĂůĂƉƉůŝĐĂƚŝŽŶŽĨůĞƚ͛ƐŐŽ͕ sit/down maintain
Client home (2-hour session)
Client home (1-hour session) Client home and quiet area outdoors
Skills (Training Mechanics)
(1-hour session) Client home and quiet area outdoors
Outdoor area with light traffic and exposure to the problematic conditioned stimulus
3. 4. 5.
Have we prepared our individual lesson plan? How many skills sessions do we plan to execute in the lesson? Do we have our skill sessions planned? This means: a. Do we know what we will teach first and to what criteria? b. Have we developed our how, what and why? c. Do we have the necessary handouts to support knowledge transfer in conjunction with the skill training we have planned?
Graphic © Niki Tudge
d. Do we have all the correct equipment on hand? e. Are we dressed appropriately, i.e. do we look professional? The individual lesson plan document in Figure 1-2 (see page 50) highlights an example of an individual lesson from the six-week training plan. The lesson is then dissected into two components: 1. What knowledge will we be transferring to the client? 2. What skills will we need to teach the client so they can train BARKS from the Guild/September 2018
consulting Figure 1-2: Individual Lesson Plan Highlighting the Supporting Documentation Needed and Goal Criteria for the Skills Being Covered Knowledge (Teaching Theory) x x x
x x x
Overview of training philosophy Review equipment use Theory of name game, hand feeding and mental stimulation exercises Theory for including play Theory for using harness Practical application of new skills Kongs and toys ʹ purpose and use
Supporting Documents -
Four Skill Sessions
Handouts on training versus management versus relationships Handouts on each of the following skills: o play o harnesses vs. collars o Kong filler recipes
2. x x x 3. 4.
Using a clicker, mechanics, timing and purpose Relationship Exercises Hand feeding exercise Name game process Play activities Fitting and desensitizing a harness Filling a Kong toy
their dog competently? In addition, we must identify what supporting documents are required for the knowledge transfer and what equipment is needed for the skill training. When training the skills what criteria do we hope to achieve? When we have multiple clients it is important to record this information so we know, when we arrive for a lesson, where we left off, where the client stands, and where this lesson plan should take us. Before we begin any individual training sessions within a lesson, we should be very clear about what exactly we will be training and to what criteria. Using a lesson plan like the one detailed in Figure 1-2 (above)
Charging the clicker, timing, position and treat delivery Hand feeding for seven days while playing the name game and making positive eye contact Identifying two play activities for inside the house and two for the yard Dressing and undressing the dog with a harness while eliciting a conditioned emotional response Three Kongs prepped for use
helps us to be sure we have all the necessary support and homework documentation. Note that in the lesson plan there would also be a column for goal criteria. This will ensure we know the exact criteria each skill will be trained to in any individual lesson and support our clients achieving their goals. As discussed previously, we may have three to five individual skill training sessions within one lesson, and we need to prepare for each one of them. As can be seen in Figure 1-2, there are multiple sessions in each single lesson.
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Graphic © Niki Tudge
Figure 1-3: Each training lesson should be conducted in the same way to ensure trainers guide students through the Experiential Learning Cycle
BARKS from the Guild/September 2018
Topics may include a particular aspect of training, ethology, learning theory, behavior specifics...anything at all your fellow pet professionals would find educational. We’ll even do some practice runs with you to help you along (if you need them!)
Each lesson should be conducted in the same way. This entails working to the same method every time to ensure we guide students through the Experiential Learning Cycle (see Figure 1-3, page 50, below left). The learning cycle involves moving from experience, to reflecting, to conceptualizing and, finally, to integrating the actual skills. 1. As we are learning, we first experience something new and immerse ourselves in it. We bring our own biases to the experience so we are caught up in our own individual meanings. 2. Next, we reflect on the experience. We begin to filter it through our own eyes based on our past experiences. As we move through this reflection we are able to dismiss our biases and rigidity to see and feel more objectively what we have just experienced. 3. Then we conceptualize, at which point we narrow our focus from individual reflections and move from perception to concept. We seek to understand what we have experienced so we can label it or classify it in a way that makes sense to us based on our previous experiences. 4. Finally, we take action once we understand the concept. For most of us though, action is not enough. We need to play around with the experience, tweak it and make it work for us. At this stage we have become part of the manipulation process. In other words, we can manipulate our actions based on our experiences, reflections and conceptualizations. These four components, experience, reflection, conceptualization and action, are the four cornerstones of professor of organizational behavior and educational theorist David A. Kolb’s Experiential Learning Cycle. There is a formula for moving through the Experiential Learning Cycle and, in the second part of this article, I will present an overview of the various steps involved, as well as what should be covered in each lesson. n
Kolb, D. A. (2015). Experiential Learning. 2nd edn. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education Inc.
Niki Tudge PCBC-A AABP-CDBT AAPB – CDT is founder and president of the Pet Professional Guild (petprofessionalguild.com), The DogSmith (dogsmith.com), a national dog training and pet-care license, and DogNostics Career College (dognosticselearning.com), and president of Doggone Safe (doggonesafe.com). She has business degrees from Oxford Brookes University, UK and has achieved her DipABT and DipCBST. Recently, she has published People Training Skills for Pet Professionals – Your essential guide to engaging, educating and empowering your human clients, Training Big for Small Businesses, and A Kids’ Comprehensive Guide to Speaking Dog.
Redstone Media Group, in partnership with the Pet Professional Guild (PPG), is delighted to announce that all PPG members are now eligible for 50% OFF ($12 for six issues) a oneyear subscription to Animal Wellness or Equine Wellness magazines.
“We all want our dogs to enjoy a long healthy life,” says Animal Wellness Publisher Tim Hockley, and Animal Wellness magazine is the #1 publication devoted to this cause. Learn about the vital four pillars to wellness, discover the secrets to longevity, revitalize your bond and learn from the world’s leading natural health experts. Your subscription code can be picked up in the member area of the PPG website, PetProfessionalGuild.com/benefitinformation. Please be sure to log in first.
For people who are serious about their dogs!
BARKS from the Guild/September 2018
A Helping Hand
Sheelah Gullion starts a conversation on the value of mentorship in the pet industry
by inviting trainers with a variety of experience to weigh in with their thoughts n spite of its short history, dog training as a profession is evolving rapidly and those who take the profession seriously know that education and practical experience are equally important, no matter how you acquire them. But what is the best way to acquire education and experience? Do we need mentorships in our industry? Should they be formal, and long? Or informal and just long enough for a student to get his or her feet wet? What is the value of having a mentor and how do you know if yours is a good one? I posed these questions to some other trainers. All respondents were professional, working dog trainers in the United States who took my questions seriously and gave considered responses. There were a few surprises among the replies: while everyone agrees that having a mentor is a good thing, there was no clear agreement on how much experience a mentor should have or what kind of experience. Respondents agreed that, in their opinion, the sheer volume and variety of dog trainer programs currently available seem to be fragmenting our industry rather than building it up, but there was a surprising variation in how long everyone feels mentorships should last. In order to give the respondents the opportunity to be completely frank in their opinions, I have kept their replies anonymous. It is my hope that this will form the beginning of a conversation that will ultimately reach those who may eventually help draw up regulations for education requirements in our industry. Q: Have you ever been a mentor or a mentee, or did you come to training another way?
Respondent 1: I’ve been both mentor and mentee. I first started my puppy and dog training by assisting in classes at both a private school and at a shelter. At the private school, I assisted in puppy classes four hours a week for five years under one instructor, and occasionally subbed for other instructors. Then an opening came up and I was offered [the chance] to teach my own classes. I was very fortunate to have such exposure and hands-on experience. At the same time, I was volunteering at a shelter for three years, assisting in classes there two hours a week plus walking and/or training adoptable dogs for an additional hour. The shelter offered me a great variety of classes and dogs and I had several instructors there that mentored me. Both situations were incredibly valuable because I learned from hands-on experience with close observation and discussions with the primary instructors. Both situations were voluntary and informal, allowing me the luxury of time to decide if I really wanted to take this path. I have never formally mentored anyone in the dog training world. However, I have definitely had multiple assistants in my classes, including some that were going through internship programs, but my comments were never sought. I found that those in internship programs were more likely to ask questions and commit to the process, whereas those who were in training academies and wanted to observe or assist were never fully committed. I can think of one who, to this day, still contacts me to discuss issues and this gives me great joy. Respondent 2: I am a self-taught dog trainer. I would have loved to have had a mentor but there was no one in my area who was willing to men52
BARKS from the Guild/September 2018
© Can Stock Photo/focalpoint
Although the pet professionals interviewed for this article agreed that having a mentor is a good thing, there was no clear agreement on how much experience a mentor should have or even what kind of experience
tor me when I first started. Although I had a few trainers point me towards trade organizations and other resources, there were not any willing to let me shadow or learn from them, so I had to figure it out on my own through attending conferences, workshops, and watching popular dog training TV shows and YouTube videos - 12 years ago there wasn’t as much good YouTube content! I’ve found that I’ve become a better trainer through being a mentor for other trainers. Just like you get better at training through teaching clients, you’ll learn even more through teaching other trainers. It makes you more aware of not only what you’re really great at, but whether or not you actually know your stuff. If you can teach someone else to replicate your results, then you know you’re good. Respondent 3: I found it very valuable to observe and watch my mentor interact with the clients and their dogs. It also gave me the chance to practice reading dog body language and see my mentor’s reactions to what the dog was communicating in real time. I also find it valuable to have another person to mull over the more complicated cases with for new ideas or suggestions, or just affirmation of my thoughts. I was able to slowly take over more and more sessions with her support, which was a big confidence booster for me in the beginning.
Respondent 4: I would very much like to have a formal mentor. I often wish I had someone formal to bounce my ideas off of, give me pointers, and help confirm that I am indeed on the right track. I have a network of people that serve as mentors when I need a sounding board, but because it is not formal I worry about being a bother.
Respondent 5: I constantly wish that I was able to study under and be mentored by a trainer further along in my field. My only experience similar to being mentored was through a big box chain where I observed classes being taught by one of the trainers there a few times. As my own career started and grew, I ended up teaching the other trainers at this pet store how to train as well. It was a very short program so I’m not sure I would actually consider it mentoring. I’ve also helped coach other trainers throughout my career. I think that teaching other trainers is a really great way to learn and make sense of what it is you’re teaching. Q: Our industry is trending towards fixed-term, structured internships or combined programs of online learning followed by a formal internship. Do you feel this is better or worse?
Respondent 3: I do feel more structure is better. Mine was relatively unstructured, which worked okay for me, but it’s easy to get overwhelmed with information in the beginning and not know how or where to start with a dog. I would have liked more hands-on instruction from my mentor of my training skills and timing, and more discussion of hypothetical or real cases and formulating training plans. Respondent 5: I believe having a more formal way to have mentors and mentees will help bring more credibility to this industry. Respondent 4: I think this new trend has its pros and cons. I learned a huge amount from my structured internship and I am very thankful it was there as an option for me. Now that it is completed though, I am hungry for reassurance and guidance but I find that the people I would like to have as mentors are busy teaching their next class of interns.
Respondent 1: I think it will always depend on the individuals. I like the idea of a formal internship so feedback and timelines and goals exist to help the mentee get through the process, build confidence and develop skills. I do think most programs are probably not structured to be long enough in duration. I also think it is important not to have only one mentor, but rather to have at least two to three so you can really see what fits your way of learning best.
I’ve found that I’ve become a better trainer through being a mentor for other trainers. Just like you get better at training through teaching clients, you’ll learn even more through teaching other trainers. It makes you more aware of not only what you’re really great at, but whether or not you actually know your stuff. If you can teach someone else to replicate your results, then you know you’re good. Q: How long should a mentorship go on (months, years)?
Respondent 2: I don’t think there’s any time limit on an informal mentorship. It’s really as long as the mentor is willing. For a formal one, I think if you intend to teach your mentee about behavior in addition to obedience, a full year is needed in order for a mentee to gain enough experience working with behavior cases.
Respondent 1: I don’t think they are usually long enough. It depends on how much experience the mentee has. If they are completely new, it may go on for a year or two. If they have already been in the industry and taken classes, then it may be less. Respondent 4: I think it depends. For example, there is a more experienced trainer that I frequently reach out to with questions and/or for reassurance who is happy to chat with me and guide me along. I think as long as I don’t abuse this, this type of relationship can go on for years. A formal mentorship is more of a time commitment. As long as mentor and mentee are in agreement, it could be beneficial to have a mentor for more than one year.
Respondent 5: I would say that an informal mentorship should last a minimum of three months. For a formal one, depending on the goal of
Respondent 2: I’ve served as a mentor for two online schools for dog trainers for a long time now. What I’ve found is that the school that offers more hands-on coaching combined with the classroom learning creates better-equipped students (future dog trainers). Yet nothing replaces a well-structured shadow program.
Q: Consider the following statement: The increasing number of programs that teach people how to become dog trainers run the risk of fragmenting our industry, in part because of a lack of standards across educational programs. What are your thoughts on this?
Respondent 1: Yes, there are so many different programs out there, each trying to compete with the other one for drawing students. [Some] of them lack comprehensive training and give the student a false sense of accomplishment and knowledge. Respondent 5: I would have to agree. However I think that mentoring should continue, but with standards of what makes someone considered a professional dog trainer and what does not.
Respondent 3: I do believe it would help to have a set standard for new dog trainer programs. What is deemed acceptable treatment of dogs varies from trainer to trainer and program to program, and I would like to see this changed.
© Can Stock Photo/Zuzule
Working alongside a mentor can help pet professionals practice reading dog body language and learn firsthand about canine communication
BARKS from the Guild/September 2018
I don’t think there’s any time limit on an informal mentorship. It’s really as long as the mentor is willing. For a formal one, I think if you intend to teach your mentee about behavior in addition to obedience, a full year is needed in order for a mentee to gain enough experience working with behavior cases. the trainer, I think one year for a professional pet dog trainer would suffice, but for a behavior consultant, I would say at least one to three years of education, etc., or proof of testing and skills.
Respondent 3: It partly depends on the time commitment (hours per week) for an informal mentorship, but I’d say at least six months to a year would be ideal. For a formal program, I think a year is long enough, but in both cases, it depends on the individual’s ability to commit.
Q: Who should be mentoring and who should not? Should there be a minimum required time working in the industry? Would you mentor under someone with “only” 10 years of experience?
Respondent 5: Since the industry is unregulated, you have to look at several different areas of expertise, not just years in the field. I think that skills, proof of education, experience level and client/colleague testimonials would be a great way to determine if someone is qualified. Respondent 3: I believe a mentor should be certified, and have been working in the industry for at least five to six years, ideally more. It really depends on the mentor and their dedication to staying up-to-date with seminars and continued education. I would mentor under someone with 10 years of experience, depending on other factors as well. Someone who has been training for 10, 15, or 20 years but who has not attended a science-based education seminar or workshop in that time, I’d steer clear of. Respondent 1: Yes, I think 10 years of experience would be the minimum.
Respondent 4: I think it’s challenging to put a hard timeline on this. Everyone learns at different paces and potentially delves deeper into the industry at different rates.
Respondent 2: I think this comes down to how much experience a mentor trainer has versus how long they’ve been training. I know plenty of trainers who have 25 years of training experience under their belts yet don’t have half of the experience (privates, group, shelter, behavior, bite case work, expert witness, board and train, day train, multiple species, etc.) that some others have. I think if you’re going to be teaching someone else, it’s only fair that the mentor trainer actually has a broad range of experience in our industry in order to teach a new trainer. They have to have enough experiences to pull from in order Hands-on instruction from a mentor can be invaluable for trainers who are just starting out working with dogs
© Can Stock Photo/halfpoint
BARKS from the Guild/September 2018
to grow and coach a new trainer. I don’t think there’s any specific length of time, but would suspect it can’t be less than three to five years before a trainer may be ready to start mentoring another trainer. Q: What downside do you see to being a mentee or mentor?
Respondent 2: The biggest downside of being a mentor is creating competition for your own business in your area. Respondent 1: None.
Respondent 4: Personally, I can see how I might feel indebted to my mentor for the amount of effort they’ve devoted to helping me. For a mentor, I can see how it might be challenging to create appropriate boundaries to ensure time is made for their own career goals. Respondent 3: I don’t see any downside. Personally, I wouldn’t have made it if not for my mentor.
Respondent 5: The only downsides are the time commitment and the cost of doing so. But if you’re committed to this industry, it would be well worth it.
Q: At this point in our industry, why do you think it’s a good/bad idea to have mentoring programs?
Respondent 5: I think having mentoring programs helps give our field more credibility. Having someone to vouch for your skills and knowledge. Respondent 3: I think it’s a fantastic idea and would love to see some standards put in place for our industry.
Respondent 4: I think they are essential. Especially for trainers who focus on positive reinforcement. Since there is so much misinformation out there around dog training and what methods should or shouldn’t be used, it is important that the right messages are spread. Respondent 2: I do think they are a good idea but there definitely needs to be some standardization put in place in our industry, education included. Respondent 1: It should be a requirement. Because dog training is real life. There is nothing like hands-on experience when working with animals. It may take months or typically longer for a variety of situations to ever cross your path. n
Respondent 1 is a self-employed dog trainer with 17 years in the industry. Respondent 2 is a dog trainer and business owner with 34 employees who has been in the industry for 12 years. Respondent 3 is a dog trainer and management-level employee at a dog training school and has been in the industry for four years. Respondent 4 is a self-employed dog trainer and part-time employee at a dog training school with 18 months in the industry. Respondent 5 is a self-employed dog trainer with seven years in the industry.
Sheelah Gullion CPDT-KA is an AKC Star Puppy and Canine Good Citizen Evaluator. She is interested in all facets of dog training and is currently focused on learning more about nose work and tracking with her three-year-old Rhodesian ridgeback, Jabu. She recently joined the training team at SmartyPup! (smartypup.com) in San Francisco, California as a day school and class trainer.
karen pryor ACADEMY for Animal Training & Behavior
DOG TRAINER PROFESSIONAL PROGRAM The standard of excellence. More than 1,300 dog trainers worldwide have earned our certification. Join them for one of the best career decisions youâ€™ll ever make. Find out more at: karenpryoracademy.com
BARKS from the Guild/September 2018
Ask the Experts: Optimizing Your Website Veronica Boutelle of dog*biz responds to pet professionals’ questions on all things
business and marketing
Q: Help! My new website isn’t working and I can’t figure out why. I’m frustrated. I just spent all this money and time and nothing seems to be happening. What am I doing wrong?
- A Frustrated Trainer in Texas
A: First, thanks for noticing our new name! Second, I’m sorry about the frustration with your new website. It’s a little hard to say what might be going on (or not going on!) without more information, but let’s go over the most common culprits responsible for an underperforming website. There are two main ways a site can fail. One is not being found, and the other is failing the user once found. Installing Google Analytics (or having a webmaster to do so for you) can help you determine which problem you’re having. If your site is brand new (i.e., you’ve never had a website at your current website address or URL), it may simply be that Google and the other search engines haven’t found you yet. That can take months, but you can help by submitting your site to the search engines (or having a webmaster or search engine optimization, aka SEO, specialist do so for you). Whether your site is brand new or you’ve replaced your old site on the same URL, you’ll want to engage in some good SEO to help search engines deliver your site higher on their list when someone goes looking for what you do in your area. SEO is a wide-ranging process with many aspects to it—too much to cover here, and requires specialized expertise and customized application—but there are a couple of simple things you can do to start the process. First, just read through the copy (i.e. the text) on your site to make sure you’ve got plenty of key words—the words someone might type into Google to find someone who does what you do where you do it. You want to do this on all of your pages, but the home page is most important. Focus on service words (dog training, dog trainer, puppy train-
BARKS from the Guild
© Can Stock Photo/adogslifephoto
Studies suggest that people take two to three seconds to decide whether to stay on any given website they land on
...look to add dynamic content to your site. A blog is a great way to do this. Google loves sites that continue to update content. And a blog creates continued opportunity to utilize key words, too. Plus it gives you a way to share valuable education with your community.
BARKS from the Guild is the 64-page bi-monthly pet industry trade magazine published by the Pet Professional Guild, available to Pet Professional Guild Australia members, supporters and the general public online (and in print, by monthly subscription). Widely read by pet industry professionals and pet owners alike, BARKS covers a vast range of topics encompassing animal behavior, pet care, training, education, industry trends, business AND MUCH MORE! If you would like to reach your target audience, BARKS is the perfect vehicle to achieve that goal. To contribute an article, please contact the editor, Susan Nilson: firstname.lastname@example.org To advertise, please contact Kelly Fahey: Kelly@petprofessionalguild.com
BARKS from the Guild/September 2018
ing classes, for example) and location words. If you don’t include where you operate, search engines won’t be able to match you with searchers. Second, look to add dynamic content to your site. A blog is a great way to do this. Google loves sites that continue to update content. And a blog creates continued opportunity to utilize key words, too. Plus it gives you a way to share valuable education with your community—you get to do good while building the strength of your website.
These are some of the most common mistakes we see on dog pros’ sites. I hope they give you some insights to work from. Bottom line: If you have an underperforming SEO is a wide-ranging process where key website, call in prowords and dynamic fessional help. Your content, such as a site is your most imblog, are essential © Can Stock Photo/26kot portant business tool, your primary business investment. It always pays to pay for its health. If you think it might be helpful to bring in an expert set of eyes to assess your site and make SEO recommendations, we love Judy Taylor at JT © Can Stock Photo/kbuntu Dataworks (jtdataworks.com). Timing Is Everything Good luck and best of success! n If people are finding your site but not reaching out once they do, you’ve got either a messaging problem or a usability issue. Studies suggest that people take two to three seconds to decide whether to stay on any given site they land on. Two to three seconds! That’s not a lot of time to convince someone they’re in the right place. So if someone can’t at a glance learn what you do and how it will make their lives better, you may well lose them. Take a look at your site to see if you’re getting your message across fast. Most dog pro sites I see fail in this regard. If you survive the initial two to three seconds, the average time you get to make your case is two to three minutes. Again, not much. So your site has to be easy to use. A visitor shouldn’t have to work hard to gather the basic info needed to make a decision. Is it easy to find my way to each of your services? Are the details about how it works, what I get, and how much it costs readily available? Can I scan through the information, or are you asking me to read long, heavy paragraphs?
Do you have a question for the business experts at dog*biz? Submit your question for consideration to: email@example.com Learn how
can help your business:
Veronica Boutelle MA Ed CTC is founder and co-president of dog*biz (dogbizsuccess.com), and author of How to Run Your Dog Business and co-author of Minding Your Dog Business. dog*biz offers professionally-designed positive reinforcement dog training class curricula, including Open-Enrollment Puppy, Open-Enrollment Basic Manners, and short Topics classes built for retention.
BARKS from the Guild/September 2018
Claiming for Injuries
David Pearsall of PPG corporate sponsor Business Insurers of the Carolinas discusses the
important issue of workers’ compensation insurance and urges all pet professionals to
consider whether they need to add this coverage
s a professional pet service provider, be it a dog trainer, pet groomer, pet sitter/dog walker or pet boarding facility, you are likely already aware of the need to carry general liability insurance to protect yourself and your business against lawsuits alleging bodily injury or property damage to others, including your clients and the dogs in your care/classes. But what about those injuries that you, your employees, or your subcontractors incur while on the job? Over the years our agency, Business Insurers of the Carolinas, has received many calls from clients who thought their medical injuries were covered by their general liability insurance, only to learn at the time of the claim that there was no coverage for injuries to themselves or anyone working on their behalf. It is important to note that the PPG liability policy is a general liability insurance policy that provides coverage for bodily injury or property damage claims to a third party caused by your negligence. There is absolutely no coverage whatsoever under the PPG liability policy (or any other general liability policy on the market) for injuries sustained by you or your employees. The exclusive remedy for injuries to you, your employees, and anyone required by your state statute to be covered is workers’ compensation insurance. This includes covering claims such as dog bites, slips or trips and falls, auto accidents while en route to a client’s home or training facility/class, etc. All of these are claims we have received over the years. Unfortunately, unless you or one of your employees have been injured on the job, it might be hard to fathom carrying this insurance. However, I recommend you give careful consideration to the consequences of not carrying it, especially if you are hiring others to work in your business. Suppose you or one of your employees suffered a significant injury from a slip and fall or dog bite, and were unable to work for a number of weeks. Although you and your staff may have health insurance, you will find that health insurers typically look to exclude work-related injuries. And even if your health insurer does cover the medical portion, they most certainly will not cover your lost wages while you are unable to work. According to the National Council on Compensation Insurance (NCCI), as of December 31, 2016, the average medical costs on a lost time claim were approximately $29,100, while the average indemnity cost (lost wages/settlements) on a lost time claim was approximately $23,900. There is a good reason why all those workers’ comp attorneys advertise on television throughout the day, asking: “Have you been seriously injured on the job?”
According to the National Council on Compensation Insurance (NCCI), as of December 31, 2016, the average medical costs on a lost time claim were approximately $29,100, while the average indemnity cost (lost wages/settlements) on a lost time claim was approximately $23,900. 58
BARKS from the Guild/September 2018
© Can Stock Photo/chalabala
Under their general liability insurance, pet care service providers are not necessarily covered for injuries to themselves, their employees, or their subcontractors
Workers’ compensation covers all work-related injuries arising out of employment and occurring during the course of employment. It also covers occupational diseases resulting from employment, and employers’ liability that is excluded from employment. It is the exclusive remedy for workplace injuries, meaning the employee relinquishes the right to sue the employer in exchange for a guaranteed set of benefits. Workers’ compensation benefits include payment for medical expenses, disability (loss of income), rehabilitation, and death.
Each individual state has its own workers’ compensation statute and the specific laws and benefit amounts vary from state to state. Coverage is compulsory in all states with the exception of Texas. But states do differ on the requirement based on the number of people you employ or in which you have an employee/employer relationship. This can be tricky so be sure to follow your state law. Some states require you to insure if you have even one employee, while others may say three employees. Even if you have less than the number required, you still may be liable
The exclusive remedy for injuries to you, your employees, and anyone required by your state statute to be covered is workers’ compensation insurance. This includes covering claims such as dog bites, slips or trips and falls, auto accidents while en route to a client’s home or training facility/class, etc. for an employee’s injuries, so be aware of your state requirements. Fines for not carrying coverage can vary anywhere from $250 a day up to $5,000 for every 10 days you neglect to purchase coverage. And many state laws will specify that failure to have coverage due to lack of knowledge is not a valid excuse for failure to insure, so please be aware if you hire or subcontract anyone to work for you or on behalf of your business. Furthermore, each state’s workers’ compensation statute also differs on how they view independent contractors and/or subcontractors. Some states will say you are responsible for injuries to your subcontractors if: 1) They do not have coverage in place and they are told how, when or where to perform the work. 2) They fail to meet certain criteria such as having the right to make a profit or loss, or having the ability to control the work. 3) They fail to provide you with proof they are insured for general liability and workers’ compensation. Other states, meanwhile, will hold you responsible for the subcontractor’s employees or helpers if they are injured (even if you didn’t know the subcontractor was hiring or using a helper) and that subcontractor failed to have a workers’ compensation policy in place.
If you utilize independent contractors/subcontractors in your business and are not 100 percent certain you are not liable for their injuries, I recommend contacting your state workers’ comp board/bureau/regulator, reading your state workers’ compensation statute (all typically define independent contractor/subcontractor relationships and can usually be found online), and/or contact an accomplished workers’ comp attorney in your area for consultation. It is always better to find out before the claim occurs! If it is determined that there is an employee/employer relationship, workers’ compensation is the only way to cover an employee. Therefore, if you do not wish to have an employee/employer relationship and purchase your own workers’ compensation policy, it is recommended that you consider requiring your independent contractors to purchase their own policy and provide you with proof via a certificate of insurance each year on the effective date of their policy. This not only strengthens the fact that they are a true independent contractor and keeps you from placing your business at risk, but it also insures that anyone the independent contractor hires or utilizes as a helper is covered. n
If you have additional insurance questions or concerns or want to know more about your individual state requirements, please feel free to contact David Pearsall: firstname.lastname@example.org. See also ad on this page, below.
David Pearsall is a certiﬁed insurance counselor (CIC) and co-owner of Business Insurers of the Carolinas (business-insurers.com), a multiline commercial insurance agency specializing in insurance for pet service professionals since 1992. He has headed up association liability and bonding programs for national pet care service associations for over 20 years, including PPG. He is a licensed insurance agent in all 50 states and has held the CIC designation since 2002.
BARKS from the Guild/September 2018
Helping People Connect
In our ongoing series of PPG member profiles, this month BARKS features Tracey Prall
of Canine Connections Dog Training and Dog Hotel in Walterstone, Hereford, England racey Prall is a United Kingdom-based dog trainer who seeks to help owners build a solid foundation in their relationship with their dogs, therefore creating stronger bonds.
Q: Can you tell us a bit more about yourself, how you first got into animal behavior and training and what you are doing now?
A: I run Canine Connections Dog Training and Dog Hotel. I have been running the training for six years and the dog hotel for a year and a half. I also run puppy socialization classes at my local vets and puppy classes locally. Clients can continue on to adolescent classes with me too. I also run the Kennel Club Good Citizen Awards and have been doing so for a couple of years. With my location, I have a large paddock which I can use in the summer for some of the classes. I have just passed my teaching foundation to run Hoopers classes so I will be adding those to my list of available services soon. The Dog Hotel comprises two kennel suites modeled on the latest design from the Dogs Trust. They are situated in my garden and I spend a lot of time with the dogs, walking, play time, scent work, etc. The kennels are light and airy, there is a radio and calming Pet Remedy if needed, and if any of the dogs are really unsettled, I do sleep in there with them! I first got into training and behavior when I had problems with my two dogs about 10 years ago. Having just ended a relationship and moved home, my two dogs were suffering from separation anxiety and howling when I was not there. I engaged a trainer who spent time with me to understand why they were so stressed and anxious and how to help alleviate and work to make them feel comfortable. I was hooked in wanting to understand more about behavior and when money and time allowed, I started training courses (both practical and online), which took two years to complete. Some of the training I did used old fashioned methods which did not sit right with me, so I pursued all avenues of training that I could find that used only positive methods. I went on many courses, which included Kay Laurence seminar days with my dogs, the BAT training course with Grisha Stewart, a seminar with Patricia McConnell and also a seminar with the Helen Zulch at the University of Lincoln. Three years ago, I took my Association of Professional Dog Trainers (APDT) assessment and passed to become a full member. I adhere to strict codes of conduct and use only force-free methods, which I advocate in all my classes. I recently attended a two-day Kathy Sdao event and the Leslie McDevitt Control Unleashed seminar. Q: Tell us a little bit about your own pets.
A: I have a kelpie cross called Kilo. She was a rescue who had already had two failed attempts at rehoming and was being fostered when I saw her at 8 months old. She is now almost 4 years old and she is a lovely girl. She has frustration issues, which at the start were diﬃcult for both of us, but together we have gradually worked to make her feel more comfortable. We have been doing scent work in the last year, which she is loving (me too!) with Scentwork Wales. It is a wonderful way for her to engage in a class environment and not get too aroused. We regularly compete in trials and she has just moved up to Novice Silver level. We have also been to Mantrailing sessions which we both enjoy. My wife Tina has a smooth collie called Cliﬃe who is 2 years old. He is a delight and both dogs get on superbly. Cliﬃe also does scent work and competes at trials organized by Scentwork Wales. He trains twice a week at agility classes too. We live on a smallholding with chickens, ducks and three alpacas plus a cria (baby alpaca), so it is always busy. Kilo and Cliﬃe always help with the morning routine of feeding everyone. At the time of writing, we have 60
BARKS from the Guild/September 2018
Photo © Tracey Prall
Tracey Prall with dogs (left to right) boarder dogs Otis and Crispin, own dog Kilo, and boarder dog Cosmo
just rehomed a 7-month-old border collie called Max who is settling in well.
Q: Are you a crossover trainer or have you always been a force-free trainer?
A:When I first owned dogs I didn't have a clue! I made a lot of mistakes (and still do) but I am always striving to learn more and continue with my professional development. I wish I had had the knowledge 20 years ago that I have now. When I took my dogs to classes in those early years, the training didn't seem right, fair or ethical so I really wanted to find a better way.
Q: What are some of your favorite positive reinforcement techniques for the most commonly encountered client-dog problems?
A: Reminding people that we can easily fall into the trap of reprimanding our dogs for undesirable behaviors and not praising the good behaviors. Changing people’s mindsets makes a big difference. Also, using a mat to help owners teach their dogs to settle for short periods of time, using a filled Kong, and teaching fun tricks like “find it,” “spin,” “twist,” or scent work to emphasize focus and fun. Q: What awards or competition placements have you and your dog(s) achieved using force-free methods?
A: All of my dogs have been rescues with difficult starts to life, but one of my collie crosses, Freya, helped me to achieve my CAP1 clicker training award and she also gained her Good Citizen Bronze Award. Another of my dogs, Lola, achieved her Bronze Good Citizen Award and was successful in becoming a Pets as Therapy Dog. My current dog, Kilo, has passed the Good Citizen Bronze Award, as has Cliffie. Both are currently working towards the Silver. We attend regular scent work classes where she has achieved her Scentwork Level 5, as well as gaining numerous clean sweep rosettes at trials, and has now moved up to Novice Silver level.
Q: What drives you to be a force-free professional and why is it important to you?
A: My dogs are my family and they have feelings and emotions too, of course. My drive is to make sure I do my level best to make sure they are safe and comfortable and learning new things in a force-free environment. This translates further into me being a professional trainer and helping other people. Sometimes, having a small conversation with an owner who thinks they have to “dominate” their dog, and being able to change that to bonding and working as a team, makes all the diﬀerence. If I can help people make small changes in the way they view their relationship with their dogs, then that is a step in the right direction. Q: Why did you become a dog trainer or pet care provider?
A: I wanted to learn more about my own dogs. With the knowledge that I have gained and continue to gain, I now want to share it with owners to help them have a better bond with their dogs. Q: What do you consider to be your area of expertise?
A: Early puppy socialization and training; adolescent training; Kennel Club Awards; and helping owners to understand their dogs’ emotions and what motivates them, as well as creating a strong connection with their puppy/dog.
Q: What is the funniest or craziest situation you have been in with a pet and their owner?
A: I have a Great Dane called Duke who attends my Kennel Club classes and he weighs 170 lbs. He will quite often sit his rear end on his owner’s lap when waiting his turn in class and it looks so funny. He is a gentle giant and has just passed his Silver Award. Q: What reward do you get out of a day's training?
A: My reward is seeing an owner smile when their dog has done his ﬁrst down or hand touch and responded with a relaxed, happy tail. I thoroughly enjoy the process of helping people connect with their dog.
Pet Professional Guild has partnered with BarkBox to provide all members with a 20% discount.
“I wish I had had the knowledge 20 years ago that I have now. When I took my dogs to classes in those early years, the training didn't seem right, fair or ethical, so I really wanted to find a better way.” - Tracey Prall Q: Who has most influenced your career and how?
A: Anything written by Patricia Mc Connell, Karen Pryor and the late Sophia Yin. All have inﬂuenced the way I have pursued my training with dogs, showing that there is another way, a more ethical, fun way to train your dog. Q: What is your favorite part of your job?
A: Meeting lots of lovely puppies and dogs; helping people build solid foundations in their relationship with their dogs.
Q: What advice would you give to a new trainer starting out?
A: Volunteer at local classes, do some credible courses and read a lot. Ask questions and practice your listening skills as it’s not all about dog training, it is people training too.
Q: How has PPG helped you to become a more complete trainer?
A: PPG has helped underline and conﬁrm everything I do as a trainer. Fear and pain are not options in training; fairness and kind methods create a good bond and trust. n
Canine Connections Dog Training and Dog Hotel (canineconnections.co.uk) is located in Walterstone, Hereford, England To be featured in the BARKS Profile section, please complete this form: bit.ly/2y9plS1
* 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: PetProfessionalGuild.com /benefitinformation www.barkbox.com BARKS from the Guild/September 2018
From an Ethologist’s Perspective
Breanna Norris reviews How Dogs Work by Raymond Coppinger and Mark Feinstein purchased How Dogs Work a couple of years ago from a DogWise booth at an event and have been looking forward to finding the time to read it when it eventually made its way to the top of my pile. If this book has not made it to your pile yet or is way down at the bottom, then I can safely tell you it is time to move it toward the top. On the front cover there is a quotation from a review by Robert Bailey who says: “Be prepared to be challenged.” Now, when Bob Bailey says this, I listen! His statement is actually true of any of Coppinger’s work and How Dogs Work is no exception. Indeed, this book will get you pondering and your science-loving soul singing. How Dogs Work looks at the behavior of dogs, not as our pets but as a species from an ethologist’s perspective. The authors write: “The ethologist isn’t driven by a special interest in a particular type of behavior or a specific hypothesis – the idea is just to get a wide-angle picture of what is going on, to get a handle on what seems to be behaviorally significant in an essentially continuous stream of movement.” Behaviors discussed in the book are foraging behaviors (this one is fascinating, especially when they discuss puppies), intrinsic behaviors, emergent behaviors and, one of my favorites, play behaviors. Motor patterns are also an ongoing theme of the book and because of this the development of these patterns are noted. According to the authors: “The fact is that we normally think about animals in terms of the adult alone as if adult were the goal of growth.” Puppy motor patterns get a special in-depth look here, and I found these interesting and thought provoking. Wolf pups also get some attention. Part of this book could really have been called How Puppies Work. Coppinger often reflects on studies with dogs, mostly livestock guardian dogs, border collies and a few sled dogs through storytelling and research. Indeed, his storytelling is often what I find so memorable about his style. For those of us that have respected him from afar, I think these stories within his writings and talks are what has been so noteworthy. It is a rarity to see such a science-minded person relay research through storytelling in such a dynamic way. Stories like that of the Maremma named Lina appears in his 2001 book, Dogs: A Startling New Understanding of Canine Origin and he continues with more stories about her in How Dogs Work. I do not find data memorable (or sometimes even digestible) but the stories are memorable. This is the sign of a good writer and teacher, in my opinion. The information sticks with you. The authors continually explain that even from the ethologist perspective behavior is complicated. They write: “One of the greatest difficulties we have with dog breeders is that they believe their dogs’ behavior is entirely hardwired and therefore inevitable – all you have to do is buy a livestockguarding dog and it will guard your sheep from predators. We ethologists, who otherwise agree that genetic hard-wiring is a crucial dimension of behavior, find ourselves frustratingly saying over and over that farmers have to pay attention to the developmental context: if you don’t raise the dog in the proper environment, you ruin its adult working performance. It’s the na-
r g fo ? n i k Loo ething Som
ture/nurture conundrum all over again.” They go on to explain: “...we don’t mean to suggest that behavior of animals can’t be altered. Our machine metaphor notwithstanding, dogs aren’t fixed automata relentlessly carrying out pre-programmed routines and nothing more. Certainly they can learn to do a great deal that isn’t ‘written in the genes’.” This is a science book and any science loving reader will enjoy it, whether they enjoy the company of dogs or not. The authors give nods to the two founders of ethology and Nobel Peace Prize winners, How Dogs Work examines the behavior of Konrad Lorenz and Niko Tindogs, not as pets but as a species from an bergen, who I could only ethologist’s perspective imagine would be pleased with this new ethology classic. Reading this book made me want to reread Lorenz’s King Solomon’s Ring, which I have not read in 20 years but was frequently reminded of while reading this book. To illustrate the essence of this book, I must share with you one of my favorite quotes that science lovers like me particularly appreciate: “But all things being equal, science generally prefers the simplest explanations that cover observable facts, even if more complicated ones might appeal to us intellectually or sentimentally.” Following this book, Coppinger went on to write What Is a Dog? with Lorna Coppinger. In August 2017, Coppinger passed away. I am so grateful that he left us with so many good stories, books, research and, above all, a deeper understanding of canines and critical thinking skills. I leave you with this quote from the afterword: “Perhaps you find some of these ideas unsettling or contrary to your own experience with dogs. Good! As lifelong college professors, we think that the best way to teach and learn is to encourage active and critical inquiry.” n
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How Dogs Work Raymond Coppinger and Mark Feinstein (2015) 224 Pages University of Chicago Press ISBN: 9780226128139
Categories include: canine / feline / equine / piscine / pocket pets / murine / avian / behavior / training / business / trends / PPG news / book reviews / member profiles / opinion
BARKS from the Guild/September 2018
BARKS from the Guild is the bi-monthly trade publication from the Pet Professional Guild covering all things animal behavior and training, p...
Published on Aug 14, 2018
BARKS from the Guild is the bi-monthly trade publication from the Pet Professional Guild covering all things animal behavior and training, p...