BARKS from the Guild September 2021

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BARKS from the Guild Issue 50 / September 2021

TRAINING Resource Guarding: Beyond 60 Days FELINE Community Support and Education CANINE The Language and Labels of Fear

EQUINE Emotions and Play Behavior CONSULTING An Evolving Industry

© Lisa Waggoner

EQUINE Training Scent Tracking

Saving Detainees and Dogs, One Life at a Time Rescue Dog Training in a Correctional Facility

November 13 - 17, 2021

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BARKS from the Guild Published by the Pet Professional Guild 2609 N Forest Ridge Blvd #179 Hernando, FL 34442, USA Tel: +1-844-462-6473 Pet Professional Guild BARKS from the Guild BARKS on Facebook Editor-in-Chief Susan Nilson Images © Can Stock Photo (unless otherwise credited; uncredited images belong to Pet Professional Guild) Pet Professional Guild Steering Committee Kelly Fahey, Paula Garber, Don Hanson, Judy Luther, Debra Millikan, Susan Nilson, Mary Richards, Dr. Pam Shultz, Louise Stapleton-Frappell 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 see Submission Policy Procedures for detailed guidelines prior to sending manuscripts. Please submit all contributions to the Editor. 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 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 available to all subscribers free of charge. Print-on-demand copies are available to subscribers by special order. Subscribers can access all current and back issues, PDF downloads and the option to order print-on-demand copies in the Members’ Area. Subscribe here. Please contact the Editor for all subscription and distribution-related inquiries. Advertising Please contact Kelly Fahey to obtain a copy of rates, ad specifications, format requirements and deadlines. These are also available here. 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 pain, force or fear and no shock, choke or prong are ever 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 the Editor.


t’s September already and that means this is our 50th issue of BARKS from the Guild! It’s taken us nine years to get to this point, so it’ll be a while before we’re celebrating the big one hundred, but it’s a milestone we’re extremely proud of, nonetheless. Just for posterity, we’ve put all 50 covers together, from the very first issue in 2012 to this current issue, into one big image (see pages 30‐31) to provide an insight into the evolu­ tion of BARKS over the years. No doubt BARKS will continue to develop, in particular to meet the ever changing dynamics and demands of digital publishing, but our focus on providing educational content based on the skills, knowledge and experience of PPG members remains steadfast. As such, it is particularly fitting this month, I think, that our cover story features the very impressive Rescued Program, which is run by PPG members Lisa and Brad Waggoner and takes place at the Georgia Department of Corrections (GDC) Colwell Probation Detention Center in Blairsville, GA. Rescued is the first rehabilitation program to use rescue dogs within the GDC and has now been operational since 2012. It started out with six men plus four dogs that were chosen by a local res­ cue group. Today, it has grown to be 12 weeks long with eight to 10 de­ tainees working with six to eight dogs, chosen by two shelter partners. The impact the program has, both on the participating detainees and the rescue dogs who are trained through it, cannot be underesti­ mated. Author Lisa Waggoner explains: “At the time of writing, 225 men have graduated from the Rescued Program. The success rate of the pro­ gram hovers around 60%, meaning 60% of the men in the program are continuing to live their lives as productive citizens of their communities. Compare that to the national number of 30% success (meaning 70% are rearrested) and it is clear what a success this program is in helping men succeed in life outside bars. And more than the lives of the men are saved; 196 dogs have been placed in happy, loving homes, many adopted by their detainee handlers.” For me personally, our cover image showing former detainee David Card and his trainee rescue dog Darla, epitomizes the work of the Res­ cued Program. The bond between the two, and how much their interac­ tions mean to both of them, are clear to see. And Card and Darla are now happily sharing their life together post Colwell Probation Detention Center, which makes it all the sweeter. It’s a wonderful read, and per­ haps you will even be inspired to initiate a similar program in your area based on the Waggoners’ experiences. On the topic of rescue dogs, PPG is passionate about the efforts and hard work animal shelter and rescue organizations make to help rehome and support animals in need and will be honoring their efforts at Geek Week 2021. The underlying theme for this year’s Geek Week, taking place in a virtual world on November 13­17, 2021, is “The Love of Res­ cue” whereby PPG and its co­hosting organizations will be giving special attention to the underdogs of second chances. Find out more about what this means for you and your shelter or rescue organization on pages 12­13. Elsewhere in this issue we talk about the risks of labelling and inter­ pretations when it comes to canine fear, and present training games for resource guarders once they have undergone initial training to teach them how to become resource sharers. Our feline section this month features another great community ini­ tiative, this time by the Friends For Life Animal Shelter in Houston, Texas. To meet a goal set by animal welfare experts to reduce the num­ ber of cats relinquished to shelters due to behavior concerns, they added a cat track to their shelter volunteer program that trains feline behavior consultants who can then go out and provide community sup­ port – especially for at­risk populations of companion animals and their caregivers. It’s another incredible initiative, and again, one that may in­ spire you to set up something similar in your local community. We also discuss an owner’s potential role in feline aggressive behav­ ior, training horses to track scents and continue our discussion on equine body language, with a focus specifically on play behavior and an interest­ ing comparison to dogs and cats. We round it all out with more sage business advice from dogbiz, and our regular member profile feature. Here’s to another 50!

n Susan Nilso

BARKS from the Guild/September 2021


contents 6

N EWS New PPG Advocacy Panel, Zigzag puppy app partnership, new corporate parter Un-Chase!®, Shock-Free Coalition ‘Tag It’ competition winners, new service dog and ESA committee volunteers sought, workshops, webinars, podcasts, and more


G EEK W EEK 2021 PPG will honor the efforts of animal shelter and rescue organizations with underlying theme “The Love of Rescue” at Geek Week 2021







Lisa Waggoner describes how she came to teach a dog training program in a correctional facility, the impact the program has had on both its participants and the wider community, and encourages other trainers to consider initiating similar programs in their area


W ORDS M ATTER Rain Jordan examines semantics, interpretations, labels, hypotheticals and oxymorons and the risks they can all pose when applied to the discussion of canine fear
















BARKS features all 50 cover graphics to date


B EYOND 60 D AYS Diane Garrod outlines five tips and games for dogs who have undergone initial training to take them from resource guarding to resource sharing, that will help both dog – and owner – avoid reverting to old habits





Melissa Taylor and Alese Zeman explain how they added a cat track to their shelter volunteer program to train feline behavior consultants who can provide community support


I T ’ S N OT T HEM – I T ’ S Y OU Andrea Carne examines a new study that reveals owner/ guardian behavior may play a role in cat aggression


T RACKING E QUINES Vicki Conroy explains how she implemented some fun preliminary lessons for her ponies in scent tracking, based on an introductory workshop on scent tracking for dogs





Kathie Gregory moves into the realm of cats and dogs in addition to horses, focusing specifically on the behaviors and vocalizations associated with play





Anna Bradley discusses advancements in training and behavior over the 20 years she has been practicing, highlighting the positive changes she has seen and their contribution to an improvement in dog welfare





Veronica Boutelle explains how to improve marketing and business practices to ensure a smooth client journey that will fill up your schedule and help your business to thrive


P ROFILE : A N U NEXPECTED C ONVERSATION BARKS features Arlene Frater of Calm Canine Training in West Lothian, Scotland

Cover image shows Michael Card and his Rescued Program dog, Darla, now living their best lives together outside bars © Lisa Waggoner


BARKS from the Guild/September 2021


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n e w s PPG Establishes Advocacy Panel to Broaden Educational Reach


PG has established an Advocacy Panel as part of its key mission to support pet guardian education and make it accessible to a wider audience. PPG considers it to be critical that pet guardians are equipped with the tools they need to ask informed questions of training and be­ havior professionals prior to hiring, so they are aware of what training philosophy, equipment and methods will be implemented. As such, the newly­launched Advocacy Panel will host a series of live Expert Panel Discussions which will take place on Zoom and/or Face­ book, eventually on a bimonthly basis. During the sessions, the panel experts will focus on topical issues important to pet professionals and pet owners. Discussions will remain simple and straightforward, with panel members simply sharing their expertise on a variety of topics that will help inform both pet guardians and pet professionals. After the live session, a recording will be released as a podcast via PPG’s media plat­ form, BARKS Podcasts, to reach an even wider audience. The first Expert Panel Discussion was scheduled for Friday, August 27, 2021 with the topic, How To Best Advocate for Positive Reinforce‐ ment Training. The second event will take place on Friday, September 24, 2021 at 3 p.m. ET and feature the topic How To Reach and Work With Your Local Veterinarians. Zoom links are posted on the Advocacy Panel website and announced on social media prior to each event. Panel members to date include Dr. Laura Donaldson, Dr. Eduardo Fernandez, Dr. Robert Hewings, Judy Luther, Linda Michaels, Pat Miller, Helen Phillips, Kim Silver, Dr. Kristina Spaulding, Claire Staines, K. Holden

Svirsky, Dr. Zazie Todd, Dr. Karolina Westlund, and Sam Wike. Sessions will be moderated by Shock­Free Coalition chairman Don Hanson and PPG president Niki Tudge, with discussion topics announced at least four weeks before the scheduled air date. PPG is currently planning to build a dedicated Advocacy Panel webpage to efficiently share session topics, dates and times, as well as provide information on individual panel members. “Hopefully, we will not only advocate and inform but also have some fun along the way and build some great relationships,” said PPG president Niki Tudge. “We intend to keep the Facebook Live sessions free flowing, giving each participant the opportunity to answer key questions and supplement other panelists‘ responses. We also encour­ age audience members to participate with comments and questions, making it an interactive, educational and enjoyable experience for all. It is essential that the pet owning public is made more aware of the differ­ ences in training philosophies amongst pet professionals to ensure they can make the best decisions for themselves, their pets, and their fami­ lies. We aim to address that need.”

Join the Advocacy Panel on Friday, September 24, 2021 at 3 p.m. E.T. to discuss How To Reach and Work With Your Local Veterinarians

PPG Appoints Don Hanson to Board of Directors


PG has appointed longtime PPG associate Don Hanson (right, with Muppy) to its board of directors with immediate effect. Hanson is a Bangor, Maine­based canine and feline trainer and behavior consultant of some 25 years, who has been co­chair of PPG's Advocacy Committee since 2016 (and, as of 2021, chairman), and chairman of the Shock­Free Coalition since 2017. PPG established the Shock­Free Coalition at that time as a global advocacy campaign aimed at ending the practice of using electric shock to train, manage, and care for pets; building a strong and broad movement committed to eliminating shock devices from the supply chain; and creating transparency on the methods used for consumers seeking professional advice on pet behavior or training issues. By strengthening its board of directors with the addition of Hanson, PPG aims to enhance its ability to react quickly and appropriately to aris­ ing issues at all times. "Don Hanson has headed up the PPG Advocacy arm for the past few years, in particular the Shock­Free Coalition, and has a track record of leadership in our industry that the board felt would benefit PPG at a higher level," said PPG president Niki Tudge. "He has the skills and experi­ ence to positively and critically contribute to some of the important con­ versations and decisions we anticipate having to make in the next couple of years regarding ethics, approach and industry progression. By making such changes and amendments to the operating practices within PPG, we guarantee that we can not only serve our membership with a high degree of competency, but that we can best represent our membership body by positively shaping the topography of the industry in which they practice."


BARKS from the Guild/September 2021

"It is an honor and a privilege to be asked to serve PPG and its members on the board of directors," added Hanson. "I've been a pet care professional since 1995 and have been active in industry associations since 1998. It has always been my goal to help people care for their pets in a kind and gentle manner, fostering a lifelong bond based on mutual trust. Unfortunately, either due to ignorance or intentional malice, pain, force, and fear are still used in the training and management of pets far too often. I be­ lieve that PPG's emphasis on science, empathy, and ethics and its mem­ bers' passion can bring about the positive changes we need in this industry. To be part of that will be a capstone to my career." About Don Hanson Don Hanson is the co‐owner of the Green Acres Kennel Shop in Bangor, Maine. He is a Bach Foundation registered animal practitioner (BFRAP), certified dog behavior consultant (CDBC), associate certified cat behav‐ ior consultant (ACCBC) and a certified professional dog trainer (CPDT‐KA) and also produces and co‐hosts a weekly radio show and podcast, The Woof Meow Show on The Pulse AM620 WZON. He writes about pets on his blog and is chairman of PPG's Advocacy Committee and the Shock‐ Free Coalition. Read Don Hanson’s full bio.

n e w s Pet Professional Guild Announces Corporate Partnership with Zigzag Puppy Training App; Valuable Tool For PPG Members to Use in Their Businesses


PG has announced a new corporate part­ nership with Zigzag, an all­in­one puppy training app designed to help puppy parents teach their pups core life skills using positive reinforcement­based methodology. The app was scheduled to be made available to the public starting August 30, 2021. As part of the new partnership, the PPG Canine Committee will provide technical support to help users with app navigation and FAQs. In cases where additional support from a trainer or behavior consultant is requested or needed, the puppy owner will be referred to the PPG Member Directory to help them find a professional in their area. Phase 2 of the corporate partnership will be rolled out in the coming weeks. During this phase, the app will be made available to PPG mem­ bers for FREE, along with a member affiliate program. This will enable PPG member users to refer their clients to the app as a support tool for their own training programs and curriculums. To support the August 30 app availability, PPG president Niki Tudge will host Zigzag head of program Lorna Winter and PPG Canine Commit­ tee chair Judy Luther in a live discussion on September 3, 2021 that will be streamed via PPG’s public Facebook page. The pair will discuss and outline PPG’s support role for the app and how PPG members can bene­ fit from using it, as well as discuss the many advantages for puppies and their owners.

No Formal Training The early stages of puppyhood are critical for a dog’s healthy cognitive and life skill develop­ ment, but according to the PDSA Animal Well‐ being Paw Report (2019), 60% of dogs in the UK get no formal training, while 12% of dogs never get any kind of training, socialization or life skill development at all. This can lead to a variety of behavior problems, and risks creat­ ing puppy parents who feel overwhelmed, leading to the possibility of relinquishment and, consequently, increased strain on shelters and rescue centers and, ultimately, the num­ ber of dogs facing euthanasia. Zigzag aims to break the cycle and pre­ vent this from happening by acting as a digital coach which guides puppy guardians through the ups and downs of early puppyhood. A personalized plan based on modern, scien­ tific, and positive only training methods is provided, while ensuring the training is fun and stress­free for both puppy and owner. Zigzag is currently the only digital coaching app that focuses purely on this early puppy­ hood phase.

Teaching Life Skills The actual life skills are taught via step­by­ step video tutorials and exercises over the course of eight­12 weeks. Users are given three to five daily tasks, seven days a week, that are adapted to their puppy’s breed – from preparing for puppy’s arrival, to learning potty training, name recognition, mouthing,

manners, recall, fetching, and more. “I’ve been a qualified behaviorist and trainer since 2009 and, year­on­year, through all the behavior and training networks I’m a part of, we see more and more issues with dogs being unable to cope in our world,” said Zigzag’s Lorna Winter. "These often require se­ rious – and often long – behavior modification programs, or even euthanasia in some cases. Yet many of the issues being presented could easily have been prevented with fairly minimal training and education during those early months of development when the dogs were still puppies. With physical puppy classes, we only ever manage to reach a tiny percentage of the puppies being born each year around the world, so it was our vision to find a way to bring all the amazing expertise we have in this industry – and get that out to millions of puppies and guardians, rather than the few hundred we usually may be able to influence.

Improved Welfare “Just hearing some of the feedback from those guardians who feel im­ mensely overwhelmed, unsure and stressed at the start, to then seeing them flourish and have wonderful little puppies who are coping well in the world, drives me to continue to be the best we can possibly be for them all. We are very excited about the future and strongly believe that by working together collaboratively, we can all help reach millions of new guardians and promote the highest level of education and support, that ultimately leads to improved welfare and hopefully re­ duces abandonment and euthanasia.” “We are thrilled to partner with Zigzag as part of our ongoing mission to broaden our reach among dog owners to ensure they get up­to­date, science­based information and education to help them make the right choices for their pets’ training needs,” added PPG’s Niki Tudge. “Importantly, Zigzag’s Guid­ ing Principles, with their focus on positive re­ inforcement training methods and their understanding that dogs are sentient beings who have individual personalities and prefer­ ences, align with those of PPG, whereby members commit to do no harm and always hold the pet’s welfare as the top priority.

Business Tool “Zigzag will be a valuable tool for our mem­ bers to use in their businesses, so they can reach more puppy owners as well as provide the potential to bring them more clients. If I were newly launching my dog training busi­ ness today, I would fully integrate it into all my curriculums. The content is professional and easy to use, and it’s a great resource for professional dog trainers as they strive to pro­ vide good quality education and support tools for puppy owners. The app has untold bene­ fits for all parties, while also allowing for dog training professionals to inject their own cre­ ativity and ideas into how they implement it into their businesses.”

BARKS from the Guild/September 2021


n e w s PPG Announces Shock-Free Coalition ‘Tag It’ Competition Winners

PPG Welcomes UnChase!® as New Corporate Partner


ongratulations to Diane Podolsky and Schel Harris for winning the Shock­Free Coalition ‘Tag It’ competition. The winners have each been awarded a FREE ticket to Geek Week 2021. The new tagline is a combination of the top two entries, as submitted by Podolsky and Harris:

Informed by Science, Guided by Empathy, Governed by Ethics™


PG has welcomed Un­Chase!® as a new corporate partner. The Un­ Chase!® program utilizes only positive reinforcement training guided by the latest scientific understanding of dog behavior and training. The goal of the program is to stop chase behavior by effectively motivating dogs to prefer not to chase. This approach removes stress from the training process for both animal and trainer and achieves more reliable results. Un­Chase!® offers a series of online courses for dog lovers to learn how to stop their dogs from chasing. The courses are fun, self­paced classes that can be taken anytime from anywhere. Professional trainers can undertake the Pro Trainer Course to gain additional skills in address­ ing chase behaviors and become licensed Un­Chase!® instructors.

PPG Calls for Volunteers for Service Dogs and ESA Committee


PG is working to develop a new committee to focus on Service Dogs and Emotional Support Animals (ESA). The move has been initiated by PPG member Peggy Moran. If you have experience in this sector of the industry and are interested in helping create resources to advocate for scientific and humane approaches to training and care, then please complete our volunteer form.

Geek Week 2021 Awards Second Set of Scholarship Tickets


ongratulations to Geek Week 2021 scholarship ticket recipi­ ents Desiree Lomer­Clarke, Eliza­ beth Ashley, Kitty Lee, and Monica Hanna! Scholarship tickets are awarded by PPG’s Inclusivity Com­ mittee to the BIPOC community.

Apply for your Geek Week Scholarship

- Listen on the Anchor Platform


ARKS Podcasts are available on the Anchor platform, from where you can select your preferred app to listen any time or download. Make sure you follow BARKS Podcasts on whichever app you choose so you can stay updated with new releases. In the most recent podcasts, join PPG president Niki Tudge as she chats to: Dr. Laura Donaldson, Simone Mueller and Dr. Holly Tett about their scheduled presentations at Geek Week 2021 (August 17, 2021). Listen here.

PPG’s monthly news update BARKS News is now available as a Podcast. Catch up on all your latest PPG news here: BARKS News August 2021 edition

Zazie Todd, animal behavior expert and award­winning author of Wag: The Science of Making Your Dog Happy, and creator of the Companion Animal Psychology about dog training, blogging, and running a business (July 16, 2021). Listen here. Helen Philips and Jules Morgan of The Gun Dog Trainers Academy about positive gundog training and the increasing demand for ethical gundog training, as well as all the great work they are doing in the UK (July 9, 2021). Listen here.

BARKS News July 2021 edition Join a BARKS Podcast: You too can share your knowledge and experience with PPG members and supporters!

Apply to be a podcast guest here. You can find older podcasts in the BARKS Podcasts Library and on PPG’s YouTube and Vimeo channels.

BARKS from the Guild/September 2021


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

Panel Discussions

Imagination and Creativity Presented by Dr. Robert Hewings Monday, September 13, 2021 / 2 p.m. (EDT)

How To Reach and Work With Your Local Veterinarians Presented by PPG Advocacy Panel Friday September 24, 2021 at 3 p.m. (EDT)

Who Controls the Training Session ­ You or the Animal? Presented by Dr. Karolina Westlund Wednesday, October 6, 2021 / 2 p.m. (EDT)

PPG Webinars On Demand

Inside the Matrix Presented by Dr. Lisa Radosta Monday, October 11, 2021 / 4 p.m. (EDT) How Cognitive Biases Interfere with How We Acquire Knowledge Presented by Dr. Karolina Westlund Wednesday, October 20, 2021 / 2 p.m. (EDT)

Listen or watch any time!

Workshops Your PORTL to Shaping Presented by Mary Hunter Saturday, April 9, 2022 ­ Sunday, April 10, 2022

Educational Summits

The Power of Pavlov Presented by Dr. Karolina Westlund Wednesday, October 27, 2021 / 2 p.m. (EDT) Shaping Up Shaping Presented by Dr. Karolina Westlund Wednesday, November 3, 2021 / 2 p.m. (EDT)

PPG Geek Week 2021 (Virtual) Saturday, November 13 ­ Wednesday, November 17, 2021

Scent and the Assistance Dog Presented by Dr. Robert Hewings Monday, November 15, 2021 / 2 p.m. (EDT)

Note: All dates and times are correct at time of going to press but are subject to change. Please check the PPG website for an up‐ dated list of all events, workshops and webinars, as well as dis‐ counted and on‐demand webinars.

Your Goals. Our Knowledge. Shared Solutions. Do you feel like you’ve already learned much of what’s available on dog behavior and training? Do you hunger for a more in depth, detailed knowledge of the science of behavior? If you answered yes to either of these questions, then Smart Dog courses are a great match for you!

Sign up for Research Bites! Our Monthly Webinar Subscription Service Research Bites is the fastest and easiest way to keep up-to-date on research on dog training and behavior! Staying current with research is critically important to being at the top of your 昀eld. It’s also fascinating and exciting to see the latest ideas and discoveries. However, 昀nding, reading, and interpreting current journal articles can be overwhelming and frustrating. Research Bites presents current research in the 昀eld of dog training and behavior in a bite-sized, manageable package. Each webinar takes you on a tour of that month’s selected research paper. We cover everything you need to know in order to interpret and apply the current, cutting edge research.

Contact us today to learn more about our upcoming courses on the science of dog behavior!

Kristina Spaulding, PhD, CAAB

e v e n t s

PPG will honor the efforts of animal shelter and rescue organizations with underlying theme “The Love of Rescue” at Geek Week 2021


PG, along with its Geek Week co­hosting organizations (Associa­ tion of Pet Dog Trainers (APDT) Australia, INTODogs UK, Pet Pro­ fessional Guild Australia, and Pet Professional Guild British Isles), is passionate about the efforts and hard work animal shelter and rescue organizations make to help rehome and support animals in need. While PPG has a special membership level for shelter and rescue groups, it is now furthering its commitment to their cause by honoring their efforts. Geek Week is a virtual educational event for pet training and behavior professionals taking place on November 13­17, 2021.

The Love of Rescue The underlying theme for Geek Week 2021 – The Sequel is The Love of Rescue, where PPG will bring attention to the underdogs of second chances. This includes: • Each presenter being granted 3 FREE tickets to assign to a res­ cue organization of their choice. If they do not have a prefer­ ence, then the tickets will supplement our Rescue and Shelter Scholarship Program allocation. • The Shelter and Rescue Scholarship Program, whereby recipi­ ents receive Geek Week 2021 tickets. There is a short applica­ tion form to complete before the presidents of our co­hosting organizations judge the applicants and announce the winners. • Shelter and Rescue teams will receive a group rate for tickets as follows: · $100 per person for groups of 4 or more (50% discount). · $70 per person for groups larger than 8 (75% discount).

Geek Week Chat The Geek Week virtual platform will also be configured to provide a spe­ cial chat area for rescue and shelter folks. On this thread, you can pro­ mote fundraising opportunities, promote responsible adoptions, and network with trainers in your geographical area to establish connections

that will help you, and the animals in your charge, in the future. In the meantime, check out the Pet Rescue Resource, which offers free training and behavior tool kits for shelter and rescue organizations. PPG launched the Pet Rescue Resource program in 2019. Designed by the PPG Rescue and Shelter Division and supported by Jean Donaldson and the Academy for Dog Trainers, it is an independent website with a variety of essential tools to help support rescue organizations. The Pet Rescue Resource is an online tool kit for shelters and rescues designed to improve adoption and retention rates of homeless pets. The resource includes articles, step­by­step training plans and videos designed to sup­ port staff and volunteers in addressing common behavior and welfare issues.

Focused Sessions During the five­day Geek Week 2021 event, K. Holden Svirsky, repre­ senting the PPG Rescue and Shelter Division, will present They Just Want to Play: Increasing Welfare, Reducing Shelter Length of Stay and Increasing Live Outcomes for Dogs with Barrier Frustration. In this ses­ sion, Svirsky will provide attendees with an overview of the extensive Playgroup Project PPG rolled out as part of the Pet Rescue Resource, which is available for all pet professionals to share and utilize. And Dr. Lisa Gunter will host two General Sessions titled Investigating the Ef‐ fects of Housing and Social Interaction on the Welfare of Dogs Living in Animal Shelters and Emergency Fostering of Dogs from Animal Shelters During the COVID‐19 Pandemic: Shelter Practices, Foster Engagement, and Dog Outcomes. In addition to these focused sessions, the Geek Week 2021 schedule is filled with presentations from academics who support and work within the rescue arena and trainers who understand the challenges rescues face on a daily basis. To all of you in the shelter and rescue environment, we thank you for the heart and hard work you invest in your mission and look forward to supporting these efforts now and for years to come. n


BARKS from the Guild/September 2021

e v e n t s Special Features at Geek Week 2021 • • • • • • • • • •

More than 90 events with live Q&A sessions. Educational content streaming 24 hours a day over 5 days. Academic, Behavior and Consulting tracks – Learn your ABCs. 70 top notch, internationally renowned speakers. 28 academics, 29 behavior experts and 13 consulting specialists. Virtual “Geeked‐Up” Cocktail Party – Get fancy, network, and win prizes. Exhibitor sessions – Meet live and face‐to‐face. Meet the authors – Get the details on what’s between the covers. Payment plans. Delivered on an easy‐to‐use, innovative platform giving you one‐click access to your events.





BARKS from the Guild/September 2021


c o v e r

Saving Detainees and Dogs, One Life at a Time Lisa Waggoner describes how she came to teach a dog training program in a correctional facility, the impact the program has had on its participants – both human and canine – as well as the wider community, and encourages other trainers to consider initiating similar programs in their area

The Rescued Program at the Colwell Probation Detention Center in Georgia started in 2012 with six men and four rescue dogs (pictured here with author and trainer, Lisa Waggoner)


BARKS from the Guild/September 2021

© Lisa Waggoner

c o v e r “The rehabilitation of inmates requires a willing state of mind, a helpful attitude which insists upon finding something of value even in those who have devalued themselves beyond personal hope of redemption… guided by the philosophy of maximum value on human rights and dignity.” ‐ William H. Lyle, Jr., Ph.D.


he above quote is from Behavioral Science and Modern Penology (1973), a book of articles compiled and edited by my dad, Bill Lyle, with assistance from Thetus Horner, an inmate at the Tennessee State Penitentiary. In March of 2004, I was honing my skills as a professional dog trainer at Peaceable Paws in Hagerstown, Maryland at a Pat Miller in­ structor academy. My route to class took me by a correctional facility, the Maryland Correctional Institution. Hagerstown is such a beautiful part of the country; the stark visual difference between the early spring green of manicured lawns and chartreuse leaflets emerging on trees alongside the road contrasted with the drab yellow, weathered walls of the facility surrounded by a high fence topped with barbed wire and razor wire, and stunned me. While unsettling, however, the stark prison also brought about sweet memories of my dad who had worked in simi­ lar buildings as a chief psychologist in maximum security prisons. With a Ph.D in clinical psychology, he understood learning theory, and in the early 1960s he was considered a pioneer in prisoner rehabilitation. He lobbied against the punishment of inmates (physical beatings and soli­ tary confinement) and for positive reinforcement in their recovery. My dad passed in 1984, long before I aspired to be a dog trainer. I was filled with emotions as I drove by that prison in Maryland on my way to class 20 years later. I thought about the challenges my dad must have faced while trying to implement science­based, positive reinforce­ ment programs to change the behavior of incarcerated men. I was a fledgling trainer in 2004, but I already had a sound under­ standing of learning theory. That knowledge gave me such appreciation for the challenges he must have experienced way back then. Dad had used positive reinforcement to effect change in humans’ behavior (in­

cluding mine as a child) and I was now using positive reinforcement to effect change in a dog’s behavior. Looking at the prison through my car window I thought, “One day I’d like to teach a dog training program in a prison.” Just eight years later, that thought turned into reality.

Rehabilitation Program Our dog training company, Cold Nose College, has been teaching a dog training program at the Georgia Department of Corrections Colwell Pro­ bation Detention Center, a minimum­security, short­term sentencing fa­ cility housing probation and parole violators in Blairsville, Georgia, since July of 2012. The superintendent of the facility, Diane Hassett, had al­ ready partnered with a local rescue group and worked through almost all the red tape for the program’s approval. All that was left was select­ ing a dog trainer. I was sitting at my desk one day writing a training report for a client when the phone rang. I anticipated a client on the other end of the line, so imagine my surprise when it was the head of the local rescue group asking if we’d consider being the dog trainers for a new program fo­ cused on the rehabilitation of incarcerated men through the training of rescue dogs who would live in the facility. I dare say I blurted out “Yes!” before the question was even fully asked. I was absolutely gleeful. We had only one stipulation – that all training techniques would be through the use of positive reinforcement. They agreed. My colleagues at Cold Nose College, Brad Waggoner and Tiffany Lovell, and I were each ec­ static about our involvement and the possibilities for the program. The so­named Rescued Program is the first rehabilitation program to use rescue dogs within the Georgia Department of Corrections (GDC).

© Lisa Waggoner

The Rescued Program starts with a two­hour, interactive PowerPoint presentation on dog body language and an overview of learning theory

BARKS from the Guild/September 2021





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c o v e r According to Supt. Hassett, the goal is to “help the detainees gain viable skills that will enable them to gain employment upon re­entry into their communities thus giving them a chance of being ‘rescued’ from the re­ volving door of incarceration.” The program’s additional mission is to train the rescue dogs so they gain the family manners skills needed to be adopted and live happily in the homes of local residents. Beyond Supt. Hassett and two GDC employees, all the individual parts of the program are led by volunteers. The 2012 program kicked off with six men and four dogs and was 10 weeks in length. Because the facility is a detention center, the average maximum sentence is 180 days. Scheduling more frequent programs every 10 weeks was designed to allow more men and dogs to participate.

Rescue Dogs A local rescue group chose the dogs for the first program. The detainees and dogs lived together 24/7 in a 216­square­foot room with multiple bunks, four dog crates, and the requisite dog gear. The program was so successful the first year in reducing recidivism (i.e. the tendency of a convicted criminal to re­offend) that approval was granted to increase the number of men and the dogs in the program. Today, the program is 12 weeks in length with eight to 10 detainees working with six to eight dogs chosen by the two shelter partners, Castoff Pet Rescue and the Humane Society Mountain Shelter. In addi­ tion to the dog training component, there are 11 other volunteer pro­ grams that focus on teaching the detainees a wide variety of hard and soft job skills. Because many of the men have backgrounds of substance abuse, there’s also a team of addiction advisors who counsel and sup­ port the men on their road to recovery. The men and dogs now reside in an 1,100­square­foot dorm that in­ cludes six double bunks; a dog grooming and bathing area; and a library of positive dog training books, DVDs, and publications donated by fellow trainers from around the United States. The detainees have full respon­ sibility for the care, well­being, and training of their canine partners. To be selected for a spot in the program each detainee completes a written application, including an essay explaining why he wants to be in­ volved and what he hopes to gain from the program. A stringent back­ ground check rules out those with violent crimes or crimes against

The detainees and dogs lived together 24/7 in a 216-square-foot room with multiple bunks, four dog crates, and the requisite dog gear. The program was so successful the first year in reducing recidivism...that approval was granted to increase the number of men and the dogs in the program. animals or children. Once the superintendent, the correctional officer in charge of the program, and the counselor of the facility review the ap­ plications, the final candidates go through a panel interview that in­ cludes observing each detainee interacting with Dennis (named after Dennis the Menace), Supt. Hassett’s adorable rescue Labradoodle. The interview questions revolve around the information in their essays, along with three important questions: • Why should we choose you over another applicant? • What’s your definition of integrity? • When was the last time someone said they were proud of you and why? Does the panel interview sound like a job interview to you? If so, you’re spot on. To say the detainees are nervous is an understatement. Most detainees in the facility covet a spot in the Rescued Program. No more living in a large dorm of 60 men and no more working in an­ other area of the facility needed to support the Colwell population. It re­ ally is for those reasons many of the detainees apply for the program. They think it’s easy street. If they’re lucky enough to be selected for the program, they learn very quickly it’s anything but easy. Yes, they get to live with the unconditional love of a dog, but their day starts at 4:30 a.m. and nearly every hour of the day and most of the evening is filled with a learning program or homework, in addition to taking care of their dog. The dog training program focuses on helping the men gain dog han­ dling and training skills which they then use to teach the dogs family manners skills. We kick off the program even before the dogs arrive. We present a two­hour, interactive PowerPoint presentation on dog body language and share an overview of learning theory. We believe it’s

© Lisa Waggoner

Former detainee Sean Rice (right) worked as the Rescued Program’s grooming instructor for five years post release from the corrections facility

© Lisa Waggoner

Through the use of positive reinforcement training, detainees learn they can bring about change in a dog without the use of fear, force, or intimidation

BARKS from the Guild/September 2021


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© Lisa Waggoner

Working in the Rescued Program is often the first time many of the detainees have worked together as a team (with instructor Brad Waggoner, front left)

important for the detainees to understand how dogs learn, which helps them apply those same principles to people.

R+ Training Brad Waggoner, my husband and business partner, and I train at the fa­ cility one day a week for two hours. We’re joined by Jim Ross, a former Cold Nose College trainer, now retired, who relishes his volunteer work at Colwell. The time is divided into hands­on training with detainees and dogs, followed by a debriefing without dogs. We teach a Family Man­ ners curriculum which includes a variety of impulse control behaviors (sit, down, go to mat) and life skills the dogs will need when entering a new home, such as loose­leash walking, polite greetings, trade, leave it, and, of course, targeting and some tricks. We also spend some time in­ troducing nose work and agility for fun. Through the use of positive reinforcement training techniques, the men learn they’re able to bring about change in their dog without the use of fear, force, or intimidation. They gain patience and appreciation for the dog in front of them. They begin to understand how to think about what they want a dog to do vs. merely trying to stop a behavior. It’s usually around week two of training when one of the detainees will say, “You know, I could probably use this type of teaching and train­ ing with my children.” A light bulb moment! The detainees learn a new way of looking at life through the training of their rescue dog. Those of you who read this publication understand how impactful a dog can be in changing human life. That’s even more true with the de­ tainees and their rescued dogs. For many of these men, it’s the first time they’ve received unconditional love and the first time they’ve taken responsibility for the care and well­being of another living being. It’s also the first time many receive positive reinforcement for their own actions. Their hearts begin to open to let in compassion and empathy for their dog and those qualities spread into other areas of their lives. It's also the first time many of the men have worked together as a

We kick off the program even before the dogs arrive. We present a two-hour, interactive PowerPoint presentation on dog body language and share an overview of learning theory. We believe it’s important for the detainees to understand how dogs learn, which helps them apply those same principles to people.


BARKS from the Guild/September 2021

team. At the conclusion of the hands­on training session, we give the men an additional assignment. We ask them to look in their library and find supportive information about a specific training technique. A recent topic was shaping, so they were to select a book and choose something about shaping. During the debrief a week later when Brad [Waggoner] asked, “So what did you find out about shaping?” he was caught off guard. Usually, only two or three men follow through with the assignment. This time it was different. The first detainee said, "I looked in the book Don’t Shoot the Dog [by Karen Pryor, 1999] and found the 10 Laws of Shaping. Law #1 is…” He cited it verbatim. Then, the second detainee said, “Law #2 is….” And, you guessed it ­ verbatim. Each of the following detainees took the next law until they had cov­ ered all 10. Not only did they have enough interest and commitment to follow through with the assignment, but they worked as a team to plan and deliver it. Yes, change happening right before our eyes.

Culture Shift The dog training program is only one of many that effect change in the detainees. Supt. Hassett’s leadership has developed a culture within the Colwell Probation Detention Center (PDC) that focuses on respect, self­ control, and discipline in all detainees. Integrity is included and is a major focus of the program. The program defines integrity as “Doing what’s right even when no one else is looking.” Officer Philip Carter, the officer in charge of the Rescued Program, leads an ongoing integrity class. So now we’ve covered the full scope of what the detainees learn, here’s a listing of the other Rescued Program contributors, which has grown over the last eight years: • A professor from North Georgia Technical College who teaches Basic Computer and Resume Building Skills; • Adam Born of United Community Bank, who presents How to Start a Small Business and Money Management; • Counselor Neal Wiley, who teaches an Anger Management course; • Dr. Patti Barnes and Dr. Dwaine Zagrocki of Union County Ani­ mal Hospital in Blairsville, Georgia, who teach a Basic Animal Health Class; • Georgia Best, who teaches a weekly class to help detainees learn job interview and résumé building skills, including the soft skills necessary during a job interview; • WorkSource Georgia, a federally funded program that helps detainees learn how to job search;

c o v e r Through the use of positive reinforcement training techniques, the men learn they’re able to bring about change in their dog without the use of fear, force, or intimidation. They gain patience and appreciation for the dog in front of them. They begin to understand how to think about what they want a dog to do vs. merely trying to stop a behavior. •

© Lisa Waggoner

Addiction Advisors, Charlie and Linda Johnston, both with inti­ mate experience of substance abuse and recovery, who lead a substance abuse class; • St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church, which conducts a weekly class on Problem Solving with Spirituality; • Probation Expectations, which is led by the GDC Department of Community Supervision to help detainees understand the expectations and responsibilities of time on probation; • A Community Outreach program which allows detainees to periodically participate in community events; • Valerie Suarez, the groomer at Alternative Veterinary Services in Blairsville, Georgia, teaches dog grooming skills. After the program, the detainees are awarded On the Job Training Cer­ tificates in Grooming by Central Georgia College. All of us who volunteer with the Rescued Program are dedicated, committed, and passionate about the work we do. There’s no doubt we get as much, if not more, from the program as we give. It’s a labor of love for all of us.


© Lisa Waggoner

The Rescued Program is 12 weeks in length and comprises eight to 10 detainees working with six to eight dogs selected by two shelter partners (above and below)

© Lisa Waggoner


BARKS from the Guild/September 2021

At the conclusion of the 12 weeks, it’s time for the formal graduation ceremony. The Colwell staff works diligently to create an upbeat, festive environment worthy of the accomplishments of the detainees and their dogs. Until the pandemic hit, the detainees, Colwell staff, and volun­ teers were joined by detainee families, members of the community, and the local press, along with a motivational guest speaker. The crowd nor­ mally averaged 100 people. Unfortunately, families were not able to at­ tend the last graduation ceremony. We hope that will change for future graduation ceremonies post­COVID. There’s never a dry eye in the room as each man steps up to the podium to deliver his personal impact statement. Imagine walking up to a podium and speaking in front of a group of strangers. It’s a first for most of these men. Some prepare a script, others speak off the cuff, but each speaks from their heart about how the program has changed them. Apologies are offered to their families, thanks are given to the people who touched their lives, including the dogs who were the cata­ lyst for change. Hopes are high – every single person in attendance feels it. The baskets of tissues spread throughout the room are there for a reason. Those tissues dry the tears of appreciation, joy, and hope. After the formal indoor ceremony, it’s time for the crowd to head out of doors so each man can demonstrate his training achievements. One by one the men and dogs show what they’ve learned. After rousing applause, pizza, cake, and ice cream are enjoyed by all, but never more than by the detainees themselves – those foods are not offered in the daily life of a detainee. After the men finish the program and are released from Colwell, we stay in touch with them through the Rescued Program Alumni Facebook page. It’s a private page for graduates, Colwell staff, and volunteers so that we can continue to support and motivate the men as they navigate life outside bars. Brad and I also invite the men to “friend us” on Facebook once they’re on the outside. I suspect some people would be frightened by

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© Lisa Waggoner

© Lisa Waggoner

At the conclusion of the 12­week program, the facility conducts a formal graduation ceremony to recognize the mens’ efforts and commitment

that type of connection, but we aren’t. The relationships we develop with the men during the program are built on trust and respect. It’s re­ inforcing for us to witness their productive lives outside of Colwell. Un­ fortunately, it’s also apparent from Facebook posts when a man’s life turns dark and he slips into substance abuse again. I’ve shed more than a few tears of sorrow when I see a graduate with great potential take that backslide, but it’s important to focus on the success stories.

Success Stories One of the detainees in the very first round of the Rescued Program, Sean Rice, is not only a story of success, but an example of giving back. Before his sentencing at Colwell PDC, Sean acquired an associate degree in business, yet was struggling to find employment. In an attempt to make ends meet, he made the unfortunate decision to sell drugs and was sentenced to six months in Colwell and seven years of probation for possession of marijuana and the sale and distribution of marijuana. He’d been in the facility for only two months when he joined the Res­ cued Program. Sean says, “Out of everything offered at Colwell, Rescued makes the greatest impact on the person participating in it. With every class that passes, elements are designed and refined to not only change the char­ acter of the detainee but also give tools to help achieve a life beyond the walls after release.” Sean was a model detainee in Colwell and the Rescued program. He received an early release for his good behavior, and with the dog grooming skills he acquired in the program, Sean found full­time em­ ployment as a groomer for a local grooming establishment. When the grooming instructor for the Rescued Program was no longer able to vol­ unteer, Sean welcomed the opportunity to step into the role. “My drive to want to be a volunteer with the program is to help people develop skills that I was able to gain and make a living from,” he said. Sean served as the grooming instructor for five years. Today, he is the busi­ ness office manager for a performing arts center in his local community. David Protsman came into the program a very angry man. He says, “I hated anyone with a badge or authority.” His offenses included multi­ ple DUIs and reckless driving, fleeing and eluding police, theft by receiv­ ing stolen property, and theft by taking. He started drinking at age 14, which led to alcoholism and drug abuse. He received three DUIs and served time in several different correctional facilities before the age of 24. His behavior continued to deteriorate over the years and on August 14, 2014, he found himself in a high­speed chase approaching a road­

block. His escape came to a halt and that incident was the beginning of his surrender. David says he was at the lowest point of his life. He wanted to change but didn’t know how. After 11 months in jail followed by a trial, he was sentenced to six months at Colwell PDC. “It’s the best thing that ever happened to me,” he says. After joining the Rescued Program his change was dramatic. David’s excellent behavior in the program caused the GDC to reduce his proba­ tion by 13 years. On the day of his release as he was walking out of the facility, he turned back and yelled, “I love this program and I love you all.” Quite a change coming from a man who hated anyone with a badge or with authority. Today, David is gainfully employed with a construction company and he builds custom cabinets. “I’m very appreciative for everything I learned and all the skills I got from the Rescued Program,” he says. “It’s changed my life. I’m a homeowner. I’m engaged. Life is good and it just continues to get better.” You can see and hear David speak about the program in the video Colwell Rescued Program Gives Offenders and Dogs a Second Chance (2018) created by the GDC and filmed during a graduation. Earlier this year, the Rescued Program team participated in Georgia Addiction Re­ covery Day hosted by the Georgia Council on Substance Abuse and David

Life after the Rescued Program

© Lisa Waggoner

Sean Rice (above left, with Supt. Diane Hassett) found full­time employment as a groomer for a local grooming establishment after his release from Colwell Probation Detention Center, and later worked as the Rescued Program’s grooming instructor for five years

© Lisa Waggoner

David Protsman (above) says the Rescued Program has changed his life; his good work in the program reduced his probation by 13 years

BARKS from the Guild/September 2021


c o v e r Through the use of positive reinforcement For many of these men, it’s the first time they’ve received unconditional love and the first time they’ve taken responsibility for the care and well-being of another living being. It’s also the first time many receive positive reinforcement for their own actions. joined us. At time marker 34:37 in the video Pets and Recovery, he shares his journey to recovery. At the time of writing, 225 men have graduated from the Rescued Program. The success rate of the program hovers around 60%, meaning 60% of the men in the program are continuing to live their lives as pro­ ductive citizens of their communities. Compare that to the national number of 30% success (meaning 70% are rearrested) and it is clear what a success this program is in helping men succeed in life outside bars. And more than the lives of the men are saved; 196 dogs have been placed in happy, loving homes, many adopted by their detainee handlers.

© Lisa Waggoner

Before being accepted into the Rescued Program, final candidates go through a panel interview that includes observing each detainee interacting with Supt. Hassett’s rescue Labradoodle, Dennis (above center, with Supt. Hassett)


Ripple Effect We are honored to have received three top awards from the Georgia Department of Corrections for our involvement with the program: Vol­ unteer Partner Agency of the Year (2018) and Volunteer of the Year (2012 and 2014). We hope to motivate other trainers to seek out ways to become involved in similar programs. We’re always happy to share our experiences and welcome interested parties to contact us. You may need to take the lead in starting a program. The first step is to identify a shelter or rescue group that can provide appropriate dogs – those with common behavior problems vs. serious behavior challenges. Once you have a shelter partner, you should research the county, state, or federal correctional facilities near you. Do online research to find out who in the facility is the appropriate person to contact. It might be best to target the Office of Public Affairs or the communication manager within one of the facilities to understand the chain of command in your chosen facility. I suspect you’ll need perseverance and tenacity through­ out the process. Every time I walk through the doors of the Colwell Probation Deten­ tion Center I think of my dad. I wish I could tell him of the immense joy I receive from watching the men and dogs change right before my very eyes. My belief is that one small act of kindness to a dog or another human being creates ripples throughout the world. If each of us can share our kindness, our knowledge, and the love of what we do to help other people and dogs learn and grow, then the world is a better place. n The author would like to thank Sean Rice and David Protsman, who eagerly granted permission to share their stories and photos.

Horner. T.W. (Author), & Lyle, W.H. (Compiler). (1973). Behavioral Science and Modern Penology a Book of Readings. Springfield, IL: Charles C. Thomas Publisher Ltd.

Resources GA Corrections. (2019, January 2). Colwell PDC "Rescued" Graduation [Video File] GA Corrections. (2018, July 10). Colwell Rescued Program Gives Offenders and Dogs a Second Chance [Video File] GA Corrections. (2016, June 1). Rescued Program Colwell PDC [Video File] Georgia Council on Substance Abuse. (2021, February 4). Pets and Recovery [Video File] Pryor, K. (1999). Don’t Shoot the Dog. New York, NY: Bantam Books Rescued Program on Facebook Lisa Waggoner is a certified professional dog trainer – knowledge assessed, a certified separation anxiety trainer, faculty member for the Victoria Stilwell Academy of Dog Training and Behavior and is the founder of Cold Nose College in Murphy, North Carolina. With locations in Florida, Georgia, Mississippi and South Dakota, the company’s trainers specialize in separation anxiety, coaching and mentoring aspiring dog trainers, and provide behavior case support for experienced trainers.

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BARKS from the Guild/September 2021

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Words Matter Rain Jordan examines semantics, interpretations, labels, hypotheticals and oxymorons and the risks they can all pose when applied to the discussion of canine fear


e recognize normal self­defense behaviors everywhere: zebra running from lions, antelope running from hyena, porcupine raising quills to receive or charge a predator. We don't con­ sider the porcupine "aggressive"; it does what nature instructs, as needed to fulfill the survival imperative. If a zebra kicked or bucked and injured a lion instead of running or dying, we would be impressed at its courage and agility. If an antelope gored an attacking hyena, we would not say the antelope is aggressive, and we would not say the antelope has fear aggression; rather, we'd assume the antelope either acciden­ tally hurt the hyena during its quite normal thrash to escape death, or purposely hurt the hyena, for the same reason. Either way, it was self­ defense. Yet when it comes to the animals we make part of our families, we expect different. We interpret dif­ ferently.

Interpretations Interpretations can sometimes hinder understanding rather than elevate it, and cultural under­ standing on a given topic can quickly slide downhill after a little slip. This is one of the lessons of the children’s game known as "Tele­ phone." While children won't neces­ sarily connect the anti­gossip lesson with the pro­understanding lesson, adults must. Adults with influence, even more. When your client says “aggressive,” their definition might be very different from yours. When you say “aggres­ sive,” your definition might not be the same as mine. I will soon share a definition from another animal professional, and that per­ son might not even agree with me about his own definition. Such is the curse of spoken language. Over the years, I’ve come across quite a few instances of confused statements about canine fear. The most alarming of these was the claim that fear is a sign of aggression. Another common but confused claim is the idea that fear causes aggression. These are not just semantic prob­ lems, but life­saving vs. life­taking problems. Statements repeated tend to morph into individual and then, even­ tually, cultural beliefs. Beliefs can be dangerous. If we believe a dog who is “fearful” is likely to be “aggressive,” that dog may be in more danger from us than we are from him. A misinformed belief can grow to pose risks to an entire population of marginalized dogs, and possibly even dogs in general. That’s because once we latch on to a belief, we are unlikely to let it go without a fight. In the face of being asked to drop it, we might in­ stead shake it to death. Further, the more clout we have, the more our


BARKS from the Guild/September 2021

own latched­on thinking and speaking behaviors grab others who look up to us. Confused or simplistic statements made by those in high au­ thority or fame tend to trickle more swiftly down to those with less ac­ cess to comprehensive learning and therefore who must rely on abject trust in a culturally approved authority. An errored but widely heard slip of the tongue by an animal behav­ ior authority can affect the thinking, decision­making, speaking, and more obvious overt behaviors of animal welfare leaders, veterinarians, behavior consultants, dog trainers, dog shelterers, rescuers, fosterers, and owners. When each trusts a source above, believing the source has more or better information, questioning the information, let alone the source, is not very likely. Just as dog trainers, behavior consultants, veterinarians, and animal welfare workers may trust the sources above them, these groups are perhaps even more trusted as ‘sources above’ by private dog guardians, rescuers, fosterers, etc. Less advantaged populations must place trust in the more advantaged—those with more access to resources and to the public ear—for understanding, guidance, and actions based on what they believe to be informed decisions. In such situations, the gen­ eral public and its companion animals are the ones at great­ est risk. Whereas you may know that a statement like “fear is a common cause of aggression” demands fur­ ther parsing and should When I attach the label “fearful” to a dog, I mean something separate not be taken literally, the and distinct from “scared” or general public does not “afraid,” even though many people know that. Some professionals also would not differentiate them, says author Rain Jordan might not know that. While we © Can Stock Photo / adogslifephoto might pause to deconstruct the labels in the statement, clients, their friends, and their families, probably will not. Having less access than we, they trust us.

Labels Therefore, we need to be more trustworthy. We need to respect their hopes and needs as well as their rights to decide for themselves. One way we do that is by guiding them to build their skills in breaking down paragraphs, sentences, titles, and slogans, because sometimes, though we may not realize it, we tell them things that need to be broken down further. Sometimes we, as an industry, inadvertently tell them that their scared dogs are dangerous. Because we are part of an industry that sometimes speaks in labels. As a behavior consultant specialized in and deeply concerned about the consequences for scared dogs, I make interpretations based on careful observation and data gathering as well as experience, practice,

c a n i n e and study. While I do use the label “fearful dog” when addressing others who I know understand what that means, I am careful other­ wise to define my terms. We can rely on some labels as shorthand only so long as everyone is fluent in the same shorthand. When I attach the label “fearful” to a dog, I mean something separate and distinct from “scared” or “afraid,” even though many people would not differentiate them. For example, a dog who was scared by a crash of pots and pans falling to the floor during an earthquake, but who is not afraid of strangers, other animals, noises, storms, or other common stimuli, is probably not a “fearful” dog from my perspective. He might be an exceedingly terrified dog in that moment, because of a specific terrifying stimulus. That isn’t the same as a state of fearfulness. We must do more than label our beliefs about things. Interpret­ ing animal behavior requires moving beyond comfortable assump­ tion. This means reevaluating previously accepted labels, like “fear aggression.” From a behaviorist perspective, fear does not cause aggression; antecedent and/or consequential stimuli do. That’s because from a behaviorist perspective, the environment largely controls behavior. Things ‘in the dog’ or that the dog ‘has’ or ‘is’ (we say) are not causes of behavior. To say the “dog has fear aggression” is meaning­ deficient and unhelpful, because the only objectively observable, definition­agreement­able item in the statement is ‘dog.’ The statement goes awry when it assumes that the dog “is” something defective or “has” something defective within him, rather than attends to the dog’s experiences and responses to the environment.

Hypotheticals But, furthermore, from a behaviorist perspective, it isn’t just a matter of what­causes­what. It is that “fear” and “aggression” are not directly ob­ servable behavior but hypothetical constructs—a more specific term for labels. To say something caused something, a behaviorist will require the claim be operationalized. For laypeople, I like to explain operational­ izing behavior in terms of word pictures. If I cannot draw a physical pic­ ture of it, it won’t be very helpful to understanding behavior. I can’t draw “fear,” but I can draw “cowering,” for example. Labels for behavior are little more than hypothetical constructs we use to describe what we believe about something. We all have our own beliefs. Some are not testable. Concrete descriptions of observable behavior and environmental stimuli are, in at least many cases, better indicators of “cause.” Say my dog nipped at the back of my neck. Many people would assume the dog is aggressive. But if I ask 10 people to draw—that is, operationalize— “aggressive,” the drawings may depict 10 very different behaviors. To get to the cause, I would need to describe the observable specifics that all 10 people could see similarly if the event happened in front of them. One might ask, If he isn’t aggressive, then why did he nip? My reply would begin with a description of what happened just before—that is, the antecedent: I slipped on the tile and fell to the ground, screaming like a baby. The dog ran over to me, bouncing around and nipping at the back of my neck until I quieted and began to get up off the floor. I might also consider the dog’s lifelong learning history, but cautiously, since this too can lead to the path of hypotheticals. If I simply assume “the dog is aggressive,” then that dog’s life is now in danger, possibly unfairly, since dogs deemed aggressive get eutha­ nized quite often. If I land on something based more in observable evi­ dence, I might decide that my noise sounded like a play signal, or a prey signal, for example. Whichever I decide, it means that the “cause” was something related to the environmental stimuli, not something in the dog. In that case, the dog more likely gets to live, because now, instead of being labeled as some sort of miscreant, his behavior is viewed as a normal response for a dog. We need better ways to interpret and ex­

© Can Stock Photo / fastfun23

From a behaviorist perspective, fear does not cause aggression; antecedent and/or consequential stimuli do, because from a behaviorist perspective, the environment largely controls behavior

Beliefs can be dangerous. If we believe a dog who is “fearful” is likely to be “aggressive,” that dog may be in more danger from us than we are from him. A misinformed belief can grow to pose risks to an entire population of marginalized dogs, and possibly even dogs in general.

© Can Stock Photo / laengauer

The threat to fearful dogs, as well as to ‘normal’ dogs who responded to a single terrifying experience, is that the definitions of common labels involved in diagnoses, prognoses, and treatment are often not careful enough

BARKS from the Guild/September 2021


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© Can Stock Photo / IvonneWierink

© Can Stock Photo / oleghz

A dog who is scared in a specific context is not necessarily living in a state of fearfulness, or an all­round “fearful dog”

We need better ways to interpret and explain “normal” versus “abnormal” behavior, to be fair to dogs and their humans, says author Rain Jordan

plain “normal” versus “abnormal” behavior too, to be fair to dogs and their humans.

against an aggression, and the latter is aggression against something disliked. There is a big difference between something dangerous and something we simply don’t like. I would self­defend, physically, if neces­ sary, against an immediate danger to life or limb; I do not however go out looking to eliminate people I think pose competition to me or who oppose me.

Observed Behavior I rarely use the term “aggressive” to describe a dog, not only because fluency regarding the shorthand for that word does not, in my opinion, yet exist, but also because the label therefore poses an unnecessary risk. When a client says their dog is aggressive, we discuss concrete de­ scriptions of specific observed behavior. The same approach is useful if someone says their dog “attacked”—because some people mean chased, or chased while barking, when they use that label. We don’t want that to automatically earn a dog the big red A. Beyond the environmental threats they may face individually, the threat to fearful dogs, as well as to ‘normal’ dogs who responded to a single terrifying experience, is that the definitions of common labels in­ volved in diagnoses, prognoses, and treatment are often not careful enough. Rather, they are personal, varying from one human to another, and therefore may be inaccurate. Thus, confusion grows, which further hinders agreement. Growing confusion and disagreement feed a vicious cycle spinning out more confusion, more risk, and more suffering. For aggression­related labels, I rely and build on the words of Roger Abrantes (2014): "Aggressive behavior is behavior directed toward the elimination of competition from an opponent…" by injuring or killing that opponent. This single line alone serves well as a clarifying definition and is at this time the best—i.e., most helpful, least harmful, and effec­ tively differentiating—definition of aggression we have, in my opinion. For me, there is a difference between on one hand behavior directed to­ ward scaring away or otherwise stopping something that appears to try­ ing to hurt or kill us, and on the other hand, behavior directed toward getting rid of competition. I would posit that the former is self­defense

While I do use the label “fearful dog” when addressing others who I know understand what that means, I am careful otherwise to define my terms. We can rely on some labels as shorthand only so long as everyone is fluent in the same shorthand.

Oxymoron Much of the behavior currently labeled “aggression” is actually adap­ tive, normal self­defense response, not actions directed toward need­ less harm or death of another. When we say “fear aggressive” we are mislabeling behavior that is actually a survival­seeking response to ag­ gression. In this way, the term “fear aggression” is oxymoronic. All animals, including humans, are endowed with the instinct to sur­ vive; this helps us effectively protect ourselves from threats. Fear­based behavior is behavior designed to avoid aggression and other dangers—it is self­defense, not other­offense. Aggression is offensive, not defensive. Fear and aggression are nearly if not exactly opposites. A dog showing behavior from the fidget, freeze, or flight categories might fairly be viewed as a scared or a “fearful” dog. But if those three of the 4Fs don’t help the dog avoid the threatening stimulus—that is, the threat does not cease—it’s not abnormal for the dog to then try to survive the threat by fighting back. And yet, if that happens, suddenly some will consider the scared dog aggressive. This is how the “fear ag­ gression” label lives on, however decrepitly and contradictorily, as a dangerous misconception. In most situations where a scared dog fights back it is because nothing else was effective in putting safe distance be­ tween the dog and the threat. When a fearful dog fights back because distance­increasing measures fail to help escape the threat or move the threat away, it is the other that is the aggressor. Often that other is us. A reader might retort, "But we humans don't harm or kill other peo­ ple who threaten us." Often true, but it’s not a helpful comparison. Human­to­human harm and homicide rules and consequences are under control of human­constructed laws, which tend to suppress our most dangerous behavioral inclinations. But we cannot justifiably apply our own governmental expectations to incidents between other ani­ mals, who are governed by their own rules of nature and species, and of course other species cannot rationally be expected to understand and embody human constructed laws.

BARKS from the Guild/September 2021


c a n i n e Interpreting animal behavior requires moving beyond comfortable assumption. This means reevaluating previously accepted labels, like “fear aggression.”

In terms of human­dog incidents, these are simply not fair pairings. Even the most well­trained dog may still act in self­defense under a threatening condition. Yet most humans appear to believe that they have an inalienable right to not be self­defended against by pet dogs, no matter the reason. In other words, humans seem to feel that self­de­ fense is not a valid reason for animal behavior, except in the case of the human animal’s behavior.

Survival The problem isn't fear or aggression. In the case of dog­dog pairings, it is often a simple matter of survival instinct, even if sometimes gone awry out of stress or confusion. For human­dog experiences it is more complicated, but however complicated, it may be that at its core, the problem is a combination of something like overconfidence and entitle­ ment. Viewing ourselves as apex predators, we struggle to accept the sentience or rights of other species relative to our rights and sentience. We do not see why we should view things any other way, given all our power and prowess. While this might be an inevitable habit of our own nature, when it puts other humans and their animal companions at risk of suffering, loss, even death, it is time to modify our own behavior—in­ cluding our thinking behavior—no matter how oblique, irrelevant, or unnecessary it may seem to our own lives. States Abrantes (2914): "Fear does not elicit aggressive behavior. It would have been a lethal strategy that natural selection would have eradicated swiftly and once and for all. A cornered animal does not show aggressive behavior because it is fearful. It does so because its natural responses to a fear­eliciting stimulus (pacifying, submission, flight) don't work." Antecedent and/or consequential stimuli, not fear, ‘causes’ what we consider aggression. The behavior we mislabel "ag­ gressive” doesn’t happen in a vacuum. Dogs, whether fearful or not, re­ spond to stimuli that threaten or seem to threaten them harm by enacting one or more available self­defense behaviors. In nature, escape is typically the first choice, but since dogs in house pet cultures are es­ sentially our captives, escape often fails. Avoidance of other kinds often fail for similar reasons, such as forcible or other aversive handling by in­ dividuals, organizations, or authorities, lack of understanding of associa­ tive learning, etc. When three of the 4Fs are unrecognized, ignored, or

BARKS from the Guild

outright rejected, a captive animal is left only with "fight" as the remain­ ing option. We intuitively understand and accept this in other animals – we do not expect lions, tigers, or bears to simply take whatever is dished out – so why can't we admit the same reality for the animals whom we've made our pets through the vehicle of captivity? We need to remember that what is threatening to us and what is threatening to our dogs can be very different stimuli. From the perspec­ tive of a caged, tethered, cornered, catchpoled, or otherwise confined dog, we are the aggressor if we leverage a captor’s advantage even though it scares—that is, threatens—the dog. Yes, our dogs might man­ age to simply be still and tolerate whatever comes; after all, dogs are "domestic" animals, not wild ones, we reason. Could doesn't mean should, though; it is not natural to ignore risk to one's life or limb. We wouldn't want our human family and friends to simply accept suffering or death rather than implement proven ways to treat suffering or to stay alive. It isn't reasonable to expect our canine companions to do so either. We expect our loved ones to want to survive. Unless we are lifelong sufferers of something along the lines of learned helplessness, we all have performed survival­defense behavior. No species exists for very long without effective self­defense responses. Self­defense­based be­ havior labeled aggression or fear aggression is not either of those things. Self­defense responses are natural, adaptive behaviors in re­ sponse to perceived and often real danger. Therefore, dogs implement­ ing self­defense responses should not be categorized as aggressive. We can decrease our canine companions’ danger—we can refuse to be part of their danger—by refusing to accept or spread misconceptions created by the “fear aggression” label. n

References Abrantes, R. (2014). Aggressive Behavior – The Making of a Definition Rain Jordan CBCC-KA CPDT-KA KPA CTP CFDP I/M works with private dog owners, rescue and shelters and their fosters, and other organizations. As a canine fear abatement expert, she provides fear abatement programs to individuals and organizations in North America and abroad. She also teaches the rigorous advanced certification Fear Abatement Mastery (FAM) program at The Fearful Dogs Project for animal behavior professionals and trainers, and for veterinary, shelter, rescue, and other workers, and develops innovative behavior, placement, and intervention programs for shelters and rescues. Additionally, she is a freelance essayist for newspapers and other publications, and has authored several books on dog behavior and animal welfare, including The Dog Who Couldn't Be Petted and Such Small Hands: An Anti-Aversives Primer.

BARKS from the Guild is the 64-page bimonthly pet industry trade magazine published by the Pet Professional Guild, available internationally to Pet Professional Guild members, supporters and the general public via a free lifetime digital subscription. Widely read by pet industry professionals and pet guardians 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.


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BARKS from the Guild/September 2021


Beyond 60 Days Diane Garrod outlines five tips and games for dogs who have undergone initial training to take them from resource guarding to resource sharing, that will help both dog – and owner – avoid reverting to old habits

© Diane Garrod

© Diane Garrod

The final step, for all dogs guarding a resource of any kind, is that while interested in an object, item, food, or location, they will eagerly and willingly give it up, and share it on cue

The Find the Resource game engages the SEEKING system and makes finding resources fun, allows for sharing the find, telling the handler about it, and waiting for the release, plus then being responsive to a strong, established cue


feet. You should be able to bend and pick up things like a ball, toy, Fris­ bee etc. without incident because the reward (and thus the reinforce­ ment) exceeds the trigger. Here are five tips to keep in mind going forward (see Fig. 1 on p.32): 1) Keep cues strong; use them often in training and in real life. 2) Keep prevention, management, and supervision at the top of your task list. 3) Regressing? Go back to kindergarten (i.e. the initial training steps). You will progress faster, and this routine will become the default for the dog. 4) Progress? Highly reward everything the dog does right, always. You want to make the point that a good decision will be highly rewarded. You want to take away the dog’s urge to even feel like they need to guard a resource. 5) Watch the dog’s body language. Know what you are seeing; do not assume.

his article is a follow­up article to From Guarding to Sharing (see BARKS from the Guild, March 2021, pp.40‐43), where I set out my process for addressing resource guarding in dogs, including the importance of differentiating the behavior from possessive aggression and avoiding inaccurate labeling. In my experience, 60 days is more than enough time to turn re­ source guarding behavior around, so to speak, get strong cue develop­ ment, and get compliance with sharing high value items. But what do you do beyond those 60 days to keep cues strong, and avoid going back to old habits on both sides of the leash? The focus of this article is to help make sure your cues remain strong and that your plan is results­ oriented for your dog’s entire lifetime. Prevention, management, and supervision are key to the structure you want, and teaching should not stop suddenly with the belief that the dog is “cured.” All dogs can guard resources; it is normal, natural, and instinctual. Making sure it does not escalate, and that relinquishing a resource is always a positive experience, with reinforcement, is an on­ going mindset. The more a dog is successful with the process and the cues, the more they will share without hesitation.

Going Forward Let’s start then at the 60­day mark, assuming you have read and imple­ mented the recommendations set out in my previous article. By this stage, your dog (even in extreme cases) should have diminished scrounging around for food and items. They will be bringing items to you, including high value items, and laying them in your lap or at your


BARKS from the Guild/September 2021

Cues for Practice Next, practice the 16 cues listed below, starting with three cues per day, five times a week, for one to two months past the 60­day mark. You will know when the dog is fluent in their understanding of these cues by the way they respond to them, and to you, even with high value resources. Then select two cues per day in the third month post the 60­day mark, and practice in real life until you are doing some quality reminder work once a day. Thereafter, work first with the weaker cues, and once in a while, the strong cues (so they stay strong).

training Teaching should not stop suddenly with the belief that the dog is “cured.” All dogs can guard resources; it is normal, natural, and instinctual. Making sure it does not escalate, and that relinquishing a resource is always a positive experience, with reinforcement, is an ongoing mindset. The 16 cues are as follows (these are the same cues, in order, that were worked on in the first 60 days (again, see From Guarding to Shar‐ ing): • Name Responsiveness • Come • Eye Contact • Drop • Get It, Bring It • Take It • Down • Stay • Mat • Come Away • Get Back • Let’s Go • Target/Touch • Off • Up • Move Over

dog and there should be no violation of trust that the food will be re­ moved. For chews, objects, toys, etc., the dog should start to show little to no worry about sharing the item with you. All this progresses to the dog feeling extremely comfortable eating no matter what is going on in the environment, and more frequently sharing an object, toy, or even a bone – especially when using a cue such as “get it,” “bring it,” or “drop it.” The final step, for all dogs guarding a resource of any kind, is that while interested in an object, item, food, or location, they will eagerly and willingly give it up, and share it on cue. In dog­to­dog resource guarding, there is no longer any reason to compete for resources and dogs can happily enjoy a resource without fear it will be taken away by another dog. Location guarders should be moving over on cue, and when asked to move, doing so eagerly. Here are five training games that will help you get to the three­ month stage in the teaching process:

Days 61 to 68: Game 1 / Find the Resource Set‐up: 50 treats to set up a trail and a bowl with a resource at the end (you decide whether low, medium, or high value).

Purpose: To use the SEEKING system to find the resource at the end of the trail; to use one of the above cues, or an alternative cue like sit, when the dog has found the resource (so sit/wait, and release). The find would be much like that in nose work, where the dog must alert you to the find and either gets a trade for the resource, or is released to take it. This game makes finding resources fun, allows for sharing the find, telling you about it, and waiting for the release, plus being responsive to a strong cue you have established.

Note: a 17th cue could be added, such as an emergency recall or whistle recall.

How‐to: Set up a trail of treats around the house or yard with each one

During this 16­cue process, always evaluate where the dog is on their journey from guarding to sharing. To help with this, let’s now look at what sharing actually looks like. For food bowl guarding, you will see a dog who continues to eat (vs. eating faster while lowering their head into the bowl and showing whale eye) comfortably, calmly, and with little resistance to approach. You can treat/retreat, and walk away. Eating should always be pleasant for the

about 3­5 feet apart. Set a cone up at the beginning of the trail. The dog does not watch you do this and is only introduced to the trail starting at the cone. Set up a bowl with a resource in it at end of trail (it can be hid­ den under a bush, behind a tree or elsewhere). As you see the dog about five treats away, cue a sit or down/wait and then release or toss a high value reward away from the resource, then pick up the bowl. Alternatively, release the dog to get the resource and then use one of the cues (a strong one) to have the dog move away, leave, or share

Fig. 1: Beyond 60 Days – A Results-Oriented Approach to Sharing vs. Guarding

© Diane Garrod

BARKS from the Guild/September 2021


training the resource. High value rewards must be used. Maintaining progress for the dog’s lifetime is key (dogs really have such short lives after all, don’t they?). So, breathe, but do not assume anything and do not go back to your old habits or let the dog go back to theirs. Monitor, monitor, monitor. What should you be seeing? The dog should be showing a good deal of self­control now. Their stress levels should be normal; any spikes should come down quickly. The dog is responsive and pays attention to your cues. Dogs resource guarding from other dogs should be able to retrieve a ball without guarding it and return it, sharing the toss away from you (two dogs, two balls or items; three dogs, three balls or items etc.). Each dog takes a turn getting the item, bringing it, dropping it, and waiting for their turn again. If you are not seeing the above, go back a bit and work more on these skills.

Days 69 to 75: Game 2 / Tug – Take It, Tug, Drop It, or Release It (Sharing at Its Finest) Set‐up: A tug toy and the jackpot – a bowl with high value reinforce­ ment or another resource set up on a table or shelf out of reach. Note: You should have a strong “take it” and a playful tug play for sev‐ eral seconds, and a solid “drop it” or release into your hands. If you do not, simply use this game to practice first.

Purpose: To keep the take it and drop it cues strong and highly rein­ © Diane Garrod

The Get It, Bring It, Drop It Game makes it fun for the dog to find, bring and drop an item, and strengthens these cues for when you need them most

forced. And to cue the jackpot. After playing the game five to 10 times, the dog understands there is always a larger reward at the end. Also, to chain several repetitions together working toward the larger jackpot!

training How‐to: Cue the dog to “take it.” Click/treat 10 times and end. When that is strong, just try a one­off tug, click/treat and so on. Then, practice the cue “drop it” and click/treat. The click itself should end the behavior and the drop should be easily done. This game should be individualized to where each dog is in the beyond 60 days journey. A session would be five to 10 trials depending on the dog. Less, pos­ sibly, if the dog is an extreme resource guarder. Alternatively, just prac­ tice individual elements of this game and then chain them together once they are strong and solid. This will further help the dog that guards resources to understand there is a motivated reinforcement at the end, which makes you worth listening to. Enrichment and mentally tiring activities should be a daily thing and a good opportunity to practice and keep cues strong. Physical exercise that is stress­free is also needed to keep the dog fit. Know the signals your dog gives to show they are getting aroused, so you can abort what you are doing and keep them at normal stress levels to avoid any regresses to old behaviors due to overarousal. What should you be seeing? The dog should be making good deci­ sions by now and automatically using all that you have taught, and re­ sponding when a cue is given once. Location guarders should be sharing space with housemates and have very solid “move over” and “off” cues. These remain highly re­ warding, so that guarding a location is not as reinforcing as not guarding a location. Scrounging for food should be almost nonexistent or rare over two and a half months. With extreme cases, you must take that full three months, with a clear daily work plan so that progress is consistent, and reinforcements outweigh implementation of any guarding behaviors a dog has developed. By 73 days you should be able to start trusting your dog around re­ sources and vice versa. You are using only force­free training and the 3Rs: Removal (of yourself, your reinforcements, or the dog, or all three); Redirecting quickly; or a Relax period with something to release stress (or a combination of all the 3Rs). Focus on what the dog is doing right and reinforce those behaviors highly. What if you have a regress? If a dog loses focus, you have taken them over threshold and could have a regress. Stop what you are doing long before your dog is no longer able to concentrate because he will most likely react and default to old behavior rapidly. Around this time a regress might well occur, especially with dogs who guard resources from other dogs. As dogs progress, guarding of re­ sources has changed and so they might try to resource guard something else (i.e., a house brother gets too close while the dog who guards re­ sources is putting on their harness, and a treat is being offered). Watch for these incidences and prevent, manage, and supervise. These are just trigger cues to you and where your work needs to progress and continue. Relationships take turns. And while the house­ mates are still civil and good friends most of the time, review any inci­ dents (antecedents and consequences), then restructure and proceed.

It is amazing how little time force-free training takes and, with the support of a systematic plan, how much and how well dogs retain the information they learn, how their behavior changes progressively, and how they transform. Eventually, regresses should be far between and few.

the dog successful and wanting to play the game with you again later. Set out a resource of your choosing and at your confidence level with your dog’s progress to this point. Like in Game 1, set up a start cone, sprinkle treats near the cone, and then lay a pathway to the hidden re­ source. You can just let the dog find the resource and then practice one of cues above. Alternatively, as in Game 1, have them sit or down/wait to indicate a find and then toss a treat away from the resource and pick it up (or re­ lease and reward them with the resource) and then cue and reward one of the 16+ strong cues you now have available. This not only works your dog’s continued love of finding resources and sharing them with you, but your skills in knowing when and how to use each cue. By this stage, you will be wondering if your dog ever guarded re­ sources at all. Behavior modification progresses if done on a daily schedule. You have progressed from the dog displaying automatic be­ havior to triggers becoming irrelevant. What should you be seeing? Around days 85 to 87, you are close to three months (that 90­day mark) and extreme resource guarding results should be quite evident (e.g., a dog who intensely – and maybe even vi­

Days 76 to 85: Game 3 / Hide and Seek the Resource (vary with low, medium, high values) Set‐up: A handful of treats to sprinkle leading up to one resource and then around the resource; can play indoors or outdoors; use one re­ source.

Purpose: To let the dog use his nose and activate his tracking skills, but also to satisfy finding a resource and being happy, even eager, to share it with you. Also to practice one of the cues above to allow you to hone your skills of removing the resource. How‐to: A session would comprise one resource and one find to keep

© Diane Garrod

Practicing the Drop It cue as part of the process to train dogs that it is worth their while to relinquish a resource

BARKS from the Guild/September 2021


training ciously guarded an item such as a sock – will now not be very interested because not guarding is the more reinforcing option).

3 Months and Beyond: Game 5 / Three Cup Search and a Game of Fetch (Get It, Bring It, Drop It)

Days 88 to 90 (3 months): Game 4 / On­the­Road Resource Find

Set‐up: Three cups; treats to hide under the cups; a resource to get,

Set up: Basically, you hide 5­10 resources on a walk (whatever that means to your dog), so the set­up is to choose a ½­ to 1­mile walk that is preset with resource hides that have been made just 10­15 minutes be­ fore you take your dog on this walk. You will need high value rewards as you will be in an open environment. Take a backpack or bag to put the items in once found and remember your cue for the dog to share or pick up an item.

Purpose: This is especially important for dogs who guard any resources they find on a walk, either on­ or off­leash, but can be used with any re­ source guarder just for fun. This game helps dogs become satisfied with the fun of the hunt, the find, and that it is fun (no matter where they are) to play the cue games with you. Choose one to five cues you will use on this walk with each resource. This helps with focus, activating the SEEKING system, and cue development and strengthening in various environments, plus it makes walks fun and satisfying, and keeps your cues strong when needed most. There are after all, two parties in train­ ing here.

How‐to: A session would be one ½­ to 1­mile walk comprising five to 10 finds. Pre set out a resource of your choosing and at your confidence level with your dog’s progress to this point. You should be able to have your dog happily sharing all the resources or move away from them so you can pick them up. You should have all resources in your possession at end of walk. You can space the resources to find a few on the way out and a few on the way back by strategically placing them across a road, for instance. What should you be seeing? A dog who guards resources should not be whiny, nor should they any longer be lunging, barking, worrying or anxious. They should be highly responsive to cues given once and eager to play the cue games you have taught them. At the 90­day mark, go on more outings, expand the dog’s horizons and behavior modification work in new environments. At this time, residual behaviors like scrounging, one dog guarding from another dog etc. should be few and far between. The dog has learned new cues and the humans have developed new, more productive habits in working with their dog to avoid resource guarding. Now, working beyond the home environment is the goal over the next three months, while keep­ ing all cues strong and in place at home and in the yard.


BARKS from the Guild/September 2021

bring, and drop. High value reinforcers (like meatballs or other stinky food that your dog will work for); a backpack to carry items in to make a stop, or stops, along the route to play the game.

Purpose: To enjoy a walk and stop to set up a game of Get It, Bring It, Drop the Resource. You can set this up once on your walk or several times. It makes it fun for the dog to find, bring and drop an item, and strengthens this cue for when you need it most.

How‐to: A session would be done on a normal walk. Simply stop on your route, take off your backpack, and set up the game. Do this by set­ ting the cups in a row, about 1 ft between them, and hide the treats un­ derneath. Next, set up a resource by hiding it about 10 ft away from the cups. The dog should be on a sit or down/stay (if strong), or you can loosely tether them a picnic table or tree for the short set­up period. On­leash, release the dog to find the treats under the cups first, then ask the dog to find the resource – without creating a path to it. Use your cues (as the dog gets close) Get It, Bring It, Drop It, then click/treat with your high value reinforcer. Reinforcers can be tossed to the far right or left, or up and over the dog’s back as you bend down to pick up the resource. End on success and pick up the items, pack them away and continue your walk. Note: You can play this anywhere but try taking it on the road at least every third time. It is amazing how little time force­free training takes and, with the support of a systematic plan, how much and how well dogs retain the information they learn, how their behavior changes progressively, and how they transform. Eventually, regresses should be far between and few. You have established 16+ cues and practiced them in planned ses­ sions and in real life. You now are beyond 60 days with your training and practicing these five new games will strengthen your cues even more, not only making it fun for your dog to relinquish resources, but also fun for you as you establish a more sharing relationship. n

References Garrod, D. (2021, March). From Guarding to Sharing. BARKS from the Guild (47) 40­43 Diane Garrod BSc PCT-A CA1 FF1 is the owner of Canine Transformations based in Langley, Washington, where she conducts Treibball workshops, classes and private consults, specializing in canine aggression and reactivity.

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f e l i n e

Building a Feline Behavior Volunteer Program… from Scratch Melissa Taylor and Alese Zeman explain how, when charged with developing a communitywide education program to reduce the number of cats relinquished due to behavior concerns, they added a cat track to their shelter volunteer program to train feline behavior consultants who can provide community support – especially for at-risk populations of companion animals and their caregivers

© Friends For Life

© Friends For Life

Behavior volunteer Kevin Rook, a BV2, reinforces eye contact to build trust in former warehouse feral, Puu

BV4s learn about building duration in behaviors using chaining during a hands­on cat training session


To reduce these numbers, animal welfare experts have charged shelters with developing community­wide education programs and building relationships with local animal behavior consultants (Mohan­ Gibbons & Weiss, 2015). This is easier said than done, when the number of cat behavior professionals in the area is in the low single digits. Over­ whelmed with the daily calls for help on top of meeting the enrichment and training needs of our shelter’s animals, we decided to add a cat track to our existing dog behavior volunteer (BV) program. Since then, this mentorship has been training feline behavior consultants to provide community support, especially for at­risk populations of companion ani­ mals and their caregivers.

here’s no way we at Friends For Life Animal Shelter can handle all of Houston, Texas’s feline behavior needs, but sometimes it seems like there’s no avoiding it. Not a single day goes by that we aren’t called by a desperate adopter, completely at their wits’ end. What’s even more alarming is knowing that the ones who reach out are just the tip of the iceberg: only a fraction of pet caregivers tend to contact be­ havior professionals, even though doing so reduces the risk that their pet will end up at an animal shelter (Mohan­Gibbons & Weiss, 2015). At Friends For Life Animal Shelter, keeping pets with their families is at the core of our mission. But Houston has a problem: there are an es­ timated 1.4 million pet cats living here (American Veterinary Medical Association, 2017) and very little behavioral support available to care­ givers. We can’t know for sure how many cats are at risk, but municipal shelter data helps us guess that well over 3,077 local cats are given up due to behavioral concerns every year (City of Houston, 2020; Harris County. n.d.; Weiss et al., 2015). That’s a lot of missed litter boxes!


BARKS from the Guild/September 2021

The Program No prior experience is required to begin our feline behavior track, but participants who complete it are certification­ready behavior consult­ ants. It is a tiered mentorship, where each of five levels focuses on a dif­

f e l i n e Only a fraction of pet caregivers tend to contact behavior professionals, even though doing so reduces the risk that their pet will end up at an animal shelter (Mohan-Gibbons & Weiss, 2015). ferent aspect of cat training and behavior. As BVs demonstrate profi­ ciency at each level, they are given more responsibilities at the next learning stage. Professional animal training courses can be very costly and difficult to integrate with full­time jobs. However, our Friends For Life (FFL) pro­ gram is free and largely self­paced. It’s easy to understand why the world of animal behavior is so homogenous – the people who end up succeeding are typically those who can afford to invest time and money in the education. Through our no­cost, flexible instruction, we seek to remove this barrier to diversity in the profession and provide un­ derserved communities with support. Rather than paying us for their education, our volunteers use their new skills and knowledge to work with the cats in our shelter and cats at risk of being surren­ dered to area shelters. It’s a win­win situation for everyone involved!

a 13­session training series on learning theory and mechanical skills. The trainees are instructed on reinforcer selection and delivery specific to cats as well as multiple ways of training novel behaviors. At this level they use positive reinforcement­based training methods to help cats co­ operate for animal husbandry tasks, like nail trims and weighing. Upon completion of their instruction, BV3s sit for a 90­minute­long oral as­ sessment with our training and behavior manager to demonstrate their understanding of learning theory and proficiency at training novel be­ haviors.

Learning Objectives: Demonstrate proficiency in the design and im­ plementation of simple training plans, explain basic principles of learn­ ing theory.

The Tiers The levels of the program are laid out with graded increases in time commitment and difficulty of learning material. It is neither ex­ pected nor desired that every participant progresses through all of them. Some BVs elect never to proceed beyond the first tier’s con­ centration in enrichment. This isn’t considered a failure; on the con­ trary, the volunteers who help us fulfill regular environmental enrichment goals provide a valuable service to the shelter. If they do choose to move up to the next tier, participants first complete duties relevant to their present level.

Level 1 / Enrichment: Feline BV1s start their journey learning about different forms of enrichment. They attend an orientation ses­ sion featuring a presentation on the physical, mental, and social en­ richment needs of cats. They also receive hands­on training in carrying out enrichment activities and ongoing support from our be­ havior staff.

Learning Objective: Obtain a working knowledge of cat enrich­ ment needs.

Duties: 30 shelter cat enrichment activity sessions. Level 2 / Body Language: Level 2 training includes an overview of cat communications through posture, movement, and vocalization. This level aims to develop a uniform language for our BVs to de­ scribe behavioral observations. They can then perform shelter duties that require an ability to chronicle feline body language, such as car­ rying out American Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals’ (ASPCA) Meet Your Match Feline­ality™ adoption matching assess­ ments.

Learning Objectives: Observe and communicate overt changes in cat behavior.

Duties: Create three feline video ethograms; help five new BVIs get started with their enrichment duties; provide “free roam” time for five cats living in solitary kennels; complete five “Feline­ality” assess­ ments.

Level 3 / Learning Theory: The program ramps up for the BV3s with

© Friends For Life

Behavior volunteer D’Andrea Keener, a BV4, visits a home to help a caregiver with a case involving inter­cat conflict

BARKS from the Guild/September 2021


f e l i n e Not every humane organization has the resources or demand for certified cat behavior consultants, but many shelter populations would benefit immensely from a team of volunteers skilled at meeting environmental enrichment goals. Duties: Assist behavior department staff and senior BVs with eight cat training sessions; conduct five training sessions for each of the follow­ ing: nail trims, crate training, and stationing for weighing.

Level 4 / Coaching Humans and Behavior Modification: In the 13­session­long BV4 series, volunteers learn about feline life stages, species­typical needs, and common problems caregivers face related to cat behavior. They also practice coaching humans how to train their cats and conduct simple behavior consultations. Their duties include teach­ ing cat training skills to caregivers at our kitten kindergarten classes and behavior consultations. Upon completion of their duties, most BV4s are considered “certification­ready” as cat trainers. About half of our feline BV4s also participate in the dog track and, at this level, choose to sit for their CPDT­KA exam. Our BV program participants who take the CPDT­KA exam have a 100% pass rate.

Learning Objectives: Coach caregivers in teaching their cats novel be­ haviors; explain principles of behavioral modification; list the features of feline developmental stages; characterize species­specific behaviors and needs, and articulate how these can present challenges to caregivers. © Friends For Life

One of the duties of BV2s, like Beverly Burns, is carrying out matching assessments to help adopters find the right fit

Duties: Observe 15 behavior consultations; develop and co­teach a six­ week kitten kindergarten class.

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BARKS from the Guild/September 2021

f e l i n e This video, Behavior Volunteer Profile D'Andrea, shows BV4 D’An­ drea Keener teaching kitten kindergarten, demonstrating a training exercise, and spending quality time with the residents at the FFL shelter. Keener also talks about why she thinks behavior volunteer programs can help at other shelters, especially in underserved com­ munities.

Level 5 / Behavior Consultations: BV5s, who are independently certified as trainers or are “certification ready,” are equipped to help with our outreach programs. BV5s receive coaching about collecting baseline and intervention data and conducting functional assess­ ments to effectively provide solutions to behavior problems. At this stage, they join our Behavior Consult Club, which meets on a biweekly basis to discuss our cases and receive support from our brain trust of fellow behavior consultants, including our behavior and training department staff. The goal of this stage is to accrue consulta­ tion experience necessary to achieve certification through a third­ party independent certification body as a cat behavior consultant.

Learning Objectives: Collect objective data on cat problem behav­ ior; conduct functional assessments for consultations; formulate hy­ potheses regarding functional relations between behaviors and environmental events; recognize when and how to conduct func­ tional behavioral analyses.

Duties: Conduct behavioral consultations with adopters and mem­ bers of the public; prepare Certified Cat Behavior Consultant (CCBC) ap­ plication, if desired. This video, Feline BV Program Training Montage, shows a montage of some of FFL’s behavior volunteers engaging in their daily training and enrichment for some of the FFL shelter residents.

Growing Your Own BV Program Houston is not the only community that suffers from a lack of behav­ ioral support for cat owners. If your local shelters are also at capacity, keep in mind that humane education outreach is a key factor in reduc­ ing intake numbers. Plus, training and enrichment programs can de­ crease stress, disease, and length of stay in shelter cats. These are two areas that can be directly improved with the help of a thriving behavior volunteer program. Interested in starting your own Feline BV Program? Here are some ideas to help you get started: • Identify your shelter and community pain points and tailor a program to address them. Not every humane organization has the resources or demand for certified cat behavior consultants, but many shelter populations would benefit immensely from a team of volunteers skilled at meeting environmental enrich­ ment goals. • Put together learning materials: curricula, instruction plans, presentations, recommended reading lists, etc., geared towards increasing knowledge and skill in your shelter’s areas of inter­ est. • Encourage well­rounded learning in your BVs by providing both classroom lessons in theory and hands­on training with cats, and host lectures by speakers from different areas of expertise. • Visit conferences as a team, online, and in­person to get in­ spired with new ideas and build team cohesion. • Supply ample and continuing volunteer support by scheduling regular times to answer questions. Allow them to practice training and consulting with behavior staff members. • Recognize the progression of each volunteer from one level to another. Behavior volunteers donate much of their time at the shelter and at home gaining knowledge and learning new skills

© Friends For Life

Friends For Life Behavior Volunteer Program graduates, Beth Brown CCBC CPDT­ KSA and Joanna Wachowiak­Finlaison CCBC CPDT­KA, earn feline agility titles with shelter cats Jimmy and Parker

so that they can help your local animal welfare culture flourish. They deserve positive reinforcement, too! Lastly, consult with a “mentor” shelter that has been through the process! Behavior and training departments with volunteer programs, like Friends For Life, are happy to help you best serve your community. Contact us and we would be thrilled to share our learning materials and guidance with you to get your BV program off the ground!

Now Seven years ago, we were just as desperate as local cat owners, looking for qualified behavior professionals to help with the immense caseload here in Houston. Now that our Feline BV Program is flourishing, we have a squad of skilled volunteers ready to work with our shelter cats and public client cases. They are involved in nearly all our behavioral work, including but not limited to: • Environmental enrichment. • Adoption matching assessments. • Simple husbandry training for wellness (nail trims, crate training, etc.). • Peri­ and post­adoption counseling. • Socialization for fearful cats. • Kitten kindergarten. • Public classes on enrichment and common behavior concerns. • Low­cost or free behavior consultations for cats at risk for relinquishment. Specialized training for volunteers is not the norm in animal shelter­ ing. Building a comprehensive program from the ground up can be a labor­intensive endeavor. On the other hand, so is dealing with all the fallout from lack of feline behavior support in the community. Behavior programs do not have to be complicated, resource­heavy projects. Even a relatively small volunteer­driven initiative can be part of a solid defense against animal relinquishment. And no shelter has to

BARKS from the Guild/September 2021


f e l i n e start from scratch anymore because other humane organizations, like Friends For Life, have done it for them and are ready to help. n The authors would like to thank Jennifer Pallanich, Carolyn Levy, D’Andrea Keener, and Céline Germain Moresk for their assistance with editing and compiling video content for this article.

References American Veterinary Medical Association. (2017). Texas Veterinary Medical Association: Economic Report Behavior Team. (2021). Behavior Volunteer Profile D'Andrea [Video File] Behavior Team. (2021). Feline BV Program Training Montage [Video File] City of Houston. (2020). Asilomar / Maddies Fund Report. Animal Shelter Statistics, Houston: City of Houston Harris County. (n.d.). Community Cat Program Mohan-Gibbons, H., & Weiss, E. (2015). Behavior Risks for Relinquishment. In Animal Behavior for Shelter Veterinarians and Staff, by Mohan-Gibbons, H., Zawistowski, S., & Weiss, E., chapter 3 pp.46-62. Ames, IA: John Wiley & Sons, Inc. U.S. Census Bureau. (2019). American Community Survey 1-Year Estimates Data Profiles. Washington, DC: United States Census Bureau Weiss, E., Gramann, S., Spain, C.V., & Slater, M. (2015). Goodbye to a Good Friend: An Exploration of the Re-Homing of Cats and Dogs. Open Journal of Animal Sciences (5): 435-456

Melissa Taylor CBCC-KA is the behavior and training manager at Friends For Life Animal Shelter in Houston, Texas. She has logged more than 20 years in shelter animal behavior, starting with an internship at the ASPCA’s Animal Behavior Center in New York City. She developed a lasting love for cooperative care from training livestock and wildlife as the coordinator of the behavior and training department at the Houston SPCA, and applies the same principles to the dogs, cats, exotics, and humans she works with now at Friends For Life. Over the course of her career, she has focused on the development of shelter humane education programs, particularly those for volunteers, with the intention of mentoring new companion animal trainers and behavior consultants with practices steeped in evidence and based on building trust, security, and partnership. Melissa has started several shelter behavior volunteer programs and consults with other humane organizations on starting such initiatives of their own. Alese Zeman CPDT-KA is the outreach coordinator at Friends For Life Animal Shelter in Houston, Texas. Most of her career has been spent teaching mathematics in public charter schools where she learned to deliver excellent content and drive community change. She has earned several education awards, leadership roles, and her master’s in teaching. She has since turned to animal behavior and sheltering. She now uses her education skills and animal behavior knowledge to share the innovative, evidence-based practices used at Friends For Life.

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BARKS from the Guild/September 2021

f e l i n e

It’s Not Them – It’s You Andrea Carne examines a new study that reveals owner/ guardian behavior may play a role in cat aggression


ggression in cats. It’s a sensitive and difficult issue for many cat owners and one that can lead to relinquishment or even euthanasia – particularly when the behavior is directed to­ wards the humans of the household. In such situations, in my expe­ rience at least, the blame is often placed directly on the cat itself. I have lost count of the number of owners who have contacted me about their cat’s aggressive behavior, saying the cat is “wired wrong” (or called them various names which aren’t fit for publishing). All too often, that blame is misguided. But try as I might, it is very difficult to convince some owners that their behavior may actu­ ally be playing a role in that of their cats. In such cases, people find it almost impossible to believe that how they interact with their cats, the resources they provide for them, and how they react to un­ wanted behaviors could be directly influencing how their cats behave. And so, as always, I turn to the science to provide evidence, which is why I welcome a new study from the Ontario Veterinary College at the University of Guelph in Canada. Published earlier this year by O’Hanley and colleagues, the study gives some much­ needed support to the notion that it may be cat owners – and not just the cats themselves, their genetics and early life experiences – who also play a role in cat aggression. This outcome was actually an accidental finding. The study was originally designed to assess whether early experiences as a kitten in a shelter contributed to aggressive behavior as an adult cat. But what the researchers uncovered was evidence to support the notion that owners who use aggressive training or behavior management techniques – in­ cluding yelling at the cat and shouting “no,” or holding them by the scruff of the neck – tend to end up with an aggressive cat. Surprised? No – me neither. But, with research into cat behavior only just beginning to become more prevalent in recent years, studies such as this finally give cat behavior consultants like me some solid evi­ dence for convincing owners that the way they care for and manage their cats can have a direct influence on the cats’ behavior. A new study shows the odds of owner­ directed aggression were lower in households that reported using positive reinforcement, while the odds of severe aggression toward people were greater when the owner reported using positive punishment

© Can Stock Photo / ifeelstock

Counter surfing is seen a commonly reported behavior issue in cats: research shows that addressing undesired behaviors with a positive reinforcement approach, as opposed to aversives, has a direct, more positive influence on the cat’s behavior

Anxiety Now, to be fair, a cat’s personality is built on a number of factors that we now know includes their genetics, prenatal stress experienced by the mother, as well as the experiences they had during the critical socializa­ tion period of between 2 and 7 weeks of age (Atkinson, 2018, pp.66­72). Cats that show signs of anxiety from an early age (from 8 weeks on­ wards) have likely acquired this anxiety either genetically or from nega­ tive experiences as very young kittens – or as a combination of both. Anxiety can reveal itself in a range of behaviors in such cats, one of which is aggression towards people or other animals. But what the Guelph study points to is the potential for aggressive behavior to also de­ velop as a result of how the cat is managed and provided for by their owner. The study surveyed 260 owners of cats aged 1 to 6 years, who were adopted as kittens from shelters. The owners were asked a range of questions on their cat’s current behavior, their social interactions and home environment. What the researchers found, among other things, was that the odds of owner­directed aggression were lower in house­ holds where owners reported using positive reinforcement, and the odds of severe aggression toward people were greater when the owner reported using positive punishment. Also, “…the odds of severe aggres­ sion toward other animals were increased when the owner indicated there were other pets living in the household and when owners re­ ported using positive punishment, and lower when provided with train­ ing enrichment.” (O’Hanley et al., 2021).

Undesired Behaviors Let’s recap what positive reinforcement is as opposed to positive pun­ ishment. Well, the simple explanation is that positive reinforcement adds something pleasant to a situation to increase the likelihood of a

© Can Stock Photo /cynoclub


BARKS from the Guild/September 2021

f e l i n e What the researchers uncovered was evidence to support the notion that owners who use aggressive training or behavior management techniques – including yelling at the cat and shouting “no,” or holding them by the scruff of the neck – tend to end up with an aggressive cat. Surprised? No – me neither. desired behavior reoccurring. Positive punishment, on the other hand, adds something unpleasant to a situation to decrease the likelihood of an undesired behavior recurring. Let’s take a common cat behavior issue as an example. Counter surf­ ing (i.e., cats hanging around on counter tops in the kitchen) is seen as an undesired behavior by many owners. An owner using positive rein­ forcement would offer the cat an alternative to the counter such as a cat tree or bar stool near the counter (a viewing point to see what’s happening) and then reward them for using the alternative (via a tasty treat or petting for example). By adding something pleasant (the tasty treat or petting) when the cat is doing the desired behavior (using the alternative to the counter), the owner increases the likelihood that the cat will continue to use the alternative and not be on the kitchen counter. At the other end of the spectrum, another owner may use positive punishment in reaction to the counter surfing and add something un­ pleasant (for example, yelling at the cat, shouting “no,” scruffing them to remove them, or using a water bottle to squirt them). This, they be­ lieve, will stop the cat from getting on the counter “because they know it’s wrong and they will be punished.” Unfortunately, in my experience, all this technique does is ruin the relationship between the cat and the owner, possibly cause fear and anxiety, and usually leads to the cat surf­ ing the counter when the owner isn’t present anyway. The study by O’Hanley et al. goes a little further by revealing that aggressive tech­ niques such as these can also lead to aggressive behavior from the cat towards their owner – and other animals in the household.

Studies such as the one by O’Hanley and colleagues not only give me a sense of satisfaction that my personal theories are correct, but they also add some scientific credibility to what I propose in my action plans and management strategies for clients. These plans and strategies always include recommendations for increasing enrichment and choice and using positive reinforcement for desired behavior. If such studies can help me convince even one owner that by modi­ fying their own behavior towards their cats, they will in turn modify their cats’ behavior, then I can only applaud them, and excitedly antici­ pate more research to come. n

References Atkinson, T. (2018) Practical Feline Behaviour: Understanding Cat Behaviour and Improving Welfare. Oxfordshire, UK: CABI O’Hanley, K.A., Pearl, D.L., & Niel, L. (2021). Risk factors for aggression in adult cats that were fostered through a shelter program as kittens. Applied Animal Behaviour Science 236 105251

Resources Pet Professional Guild Cat Committee. (2020). Quick Cat Behavior Tip: Counter Surfing. BARKS Blog Andrea Carne is a graduate of the University of Southern Queensland, Australia where she majored in journalism and drama before, later in life, following her dream to work in the field of animal behavior. She is a qualified veterinary nurse and dog trainer and member of PPG Australia. Her special area of interest is cat behavior and her passion for it led to the establishment of her own cat behavior consultancy Cattitude, based in southern Tasmania, through which she offers private in-home consultations.

Environment Matters It’s important to note that this is just a starting point in an important area of research, and much more is needed. The researchers them­ selves state that their findings “highlight several potential areas for fu­ ture research, and for owner education to reduce cat aggression.” (O’Hanley et al., 2021). But we have to start somewhere. My point is, as a cat behavior consultant who advocates force­free, positive reinforcement for felines, as well as the importance of enriching environments which offer safety, security and choice, I have long be­ lieved what this latest study points to: that how we manage our cats and what we provide for them can have a direct impact on their behavior. This does not discount the fact that the undesired behavior may have some connection to the cat’s genetics and early life experiences. However, if we are fulfilling a cat’s needs on all levels in terms of physi­ cal environment, enrichment, nutrition, social interaction and choice, we have a far better chance of not only modifying their behavior, but also preventing other unwanted behaviors arising. If we offer a positive, loving, enriching environment and positive re­ inforcement in our training and behavior management techniques, we are far less likely to have issues with cat aggression directed at us or others in the household. If we offer punishment in our responses and meld this with a bor­ ing, human­centric environment which does not provide enrichment or choice, then the likelihood of behavior issues, including aggression, in­ creases, as do any number of other issues, including inappropriate toi­ leting.

BARKS from the Guild/September 2021


e q u i n e

Tracking Equines Vicki Conroy explains how she implemented some fun preliminary lessons for her ponies in scent tracking, based on an introductory workshop for scent tracking with dogs

© Vicki Conroy

© Vicki Conroy

Mini ponies Giselle (left) and Genevieve (right) were the first to test out author Vicki Conroy’s efforts to teach tracking to her equine contingent

Having attended a tracking workshop for dogs, Conroy was interested to find out how her horses and ponies would respond to the same training


like, “Can you please get that food out of my face? I have a serious job to do here, and I certainly don’t have time to eat!”

while ago I hosted a tracking workshop for dogs at my hobby farm in the Hunter Valley in New South Wales (NSW), Australia, hosted by Margaret Keast of Jigsaw Dog Training and Behaviour Consultancy, who is based in Newcastle, NSW. I had a blast! The dogs seemed to pick it up quickly and certainly seemed to enjoy it, and it was really interesting watching the different breeds involved and how they processed the task differently. My main recollection/observation from the workshop was the re­ sponses of my cattle dogs compared to my German shepherd. The cattle dogs were, “Yep I can do that, goodee food, hmm smell, follow this, yahoo more food, I’m doing it!” While the German shepherd was more

Air Scenting A long time prior to the workshop I had read an article about horses who could track (by air scenting) and were being used for search and rescue to find lost people in Canada. I wondered how horses would en­ gage in the process compared to dogs. And then I wondered if I could teach them how to do it. As I had enjoyed the introductory day to tracking with dogs so much, I thought it would be fun to try it with my ponies. The worst­case scenario would be free treats for the ponies if it didn’t work. But it would be an interesting exercise watching the different species learning and putting things together, plus the challenge of me trying to teach them. I figured I would try it the same way I had started with the dogs (which was actually the only way I knew) to see if it could work and how I could adapt it for equines. There were so many fun things to explore here. Enter the minis. Meet Giselle, pony tracker extraordinaire, and Genevieve, the I­can­play­the­box­game pony (see photos, above).

Starting Out

© Vicki Conroy

Although the ponies were used to feeding on the ground, looking for food in socks on the ground was initially too much of a context change


BARKS from the Guild/September 2021

When we started with the dogs, we used about eight socks that had been well scented (i.e., worn under my shirt all morning). The socks were laid along the ground about 3 ft. apart, and there were smelly dog treats on each one. The dogs probably started out seeing/smelling the treats, then looking to see – or sniffing to see – if there were more treats. And these treats were found on socks which smelled of human. Once the dogs had established that socks could indicate the pres­ ence of food, the socks were then spaced further apart. Somewhere along the way, by following the socks visually or the waft of scented treats to the next sock, the dogs switched to following the smell of the

e q u i n e I thought the ponies would be able to relate to the concept of food on receptacles (even weird sock ones) on the ground, as they often were given grain feed in feeders on the ground. But it was apparently too much of a context change. person who laid the socks out, as they couldn’t see where the next sock was. We progressed to adding a turn and a longer trail, and later follow­ ing an unknown (non­owner) track layer. But that’s a dog story. Back to the ponies… I used the sock trail technique to start with the ponies too, using horse pellets and carrot pieces in place of dog treats. There were a few drawbacks to start with. For example, horse pellets and carrots are prob­ ably not as pungent as cooked liver and heart! Also, the minis weren’t used to raiding my clothes for ‘left­in­the­pocket’ treats, as they gener­ ally weren’t inside the house like the dogs are (although they did try). The ponies didn’t seem to get the idea of looking on the socks for food, and, perhaps unsurprisingly, my pointing to the socks resulted in them following my hand as a moving target, and not following the ‘point.’ I thought they would be able to relate to the concept of food on re­ ceptacles (even weird sock ones) on the ground, as they often were given grain feed in feeders on the ground. But it was apparently too much of a context change. So I added a few steps. I had some tiny flat saucer­like pieces of poly [polymer discs] I put on the ground with the ponies watching. I placed the treats on the poly plates and clicked. I loaded the plates with treats and clicked the ponies for looking at them. Repeat. I pointed to the plates with the treats. Click. Eat the treats. Tar­ get the plates. Click, treat at source. And so on. Onto the next step then, sock targeting!

Sock Targets The ponies already knew hand targeting (or plastic bottle targeting), so I moved to targeting a held sock, then a sock held at a lower level, then socks that were on the ground in front of the pony. I clicked and re­ warded at the sock for targeting the sock. I repeated the click/treat, put­ ting the sock in differing places, but still close to the ponies. Next, I put a sock on the ground away from both me and the pony, so the pony had to leave me and the treats to target the sock. Good girl Giselle! It was a bit of a tricky sock/eating arrangement to be honest. I had a pony nuzzling socks, socks that were crinkling, some pellets that were eaten

© Vicki Conroy

Cattle dog Banjo tests out the sock trail before the ponies get started on their tracking training

BARKS from the Guild/September 2021


e q u i n e from the sock, and some that were eaten from the ground next to the sock. The larger pieces worked better it seemed. And so that was the end of that session. The following week, I started the ses­ sion by pointing to the flat plate with pony treats on, and then by pointing to the socks with same pony treats on. This went well, so we moved onto laying the socks in a line. Initially, Giselle followed inquisitively as we were laying out and loading socks with treats at the same time. From here, we loaded the socks that were already laid out with treats. It seemed that Giselle went to the socks as we were loading them but did­ © Vicki Conroy © Vicki Conroy n’t go to the socks unless we went too. We (Clockwise from top left) The ponies started their tracking training with food on flat polymer discs on the did a few trials, but they seemed a little dis­ ground, then proceeded to targeting the treat­loaded socks, and then following the trail by scent jointed, so we left it there. A few months later another friend was present and so we revisited the tracking training. Although the last session had ap­ peared a bit confusing to the human side of the equation, it looked like Giselle had processed everything and knew exactly what was expected. This time, we humans went straight into laying out a row of socks each loaded with treats. At the same time, we were talking and, apparently, not paying quite close enough attention. We thought Giselle was grazing nearby, but in fact she was promptly following the socks one by one © Vicki Conroy © Vicki Conroy and was going down the line eating all the treats. As usual the pony had learned more than the humans. We repeated this twice just to make sure it wasn’t a fluke and, un­ I had read an article about horses tracking (by surprisingly, Giselle blitzed it each time. What we should have done for the following session was to space air scenting) and being used for search and rescue to find lost people in Canada. I wondered out the socks in a ‘clean’ area (one that hadn’t been walked on by the how horses would engage in the process track/sock layer before) and slowly built up the distance to when the compared to dogs. And then I wondered if I pony actually started following the scent trail. That installment is still to come. Instead, my next session was teaching the big (16 hands high) could teach them how to do it. ponies the same introduction to tracking (or eating from socks), on the

© Vicki Conroy

© Vicki Conroy

© Vicki Conroy

The author’s 2­year­old warmbloods, who have only ever known positive reinforcement training methods, were able to progress immediately to tracking lesson 3


BARKS from the Guild/September 2021

e q u i n e premise that if anything did get lost and needed tracking, at least I may be able to do so sitting down!

Training Background It was interesting to note that the big ponies (warmbloods that were 2 years old at the time) who were born at my farm and who had purely positive handling from birth (no negative reinforcement) started eating from the socks and looking for the next ones the second they were put down on the ground. This, compared to the minis who had been ob­ tained as adults and were from traditional negative reinforcement han­ dling backgrounds, and needed more preparation steps. The big ponies went straight to lesson three, or following the line of socks. Either the entirely positive reinforcement trained ponies were bet­ ter at problem solving or were less worried about punishment and hence happier to try new things. Or, maybe they were just more used to watching the human do quirky things that could involve food for them. We will continue with our tracking journey. Watch this space! n Vicki Conroy is based in Meningie, South Australia. She is a member of PPG Australia (PPGA) and the Association of Pet Dog Trainers Australia, and sits on the PPGA equine subcommittee. She is a former competitor in dog obedience and dressage to Fédération Equestre Internationale level, spoilt by a very talented and very obliging horse. She is also a former puppy preschool and pet dog manners instructor who practiced in NSW for 25 years. On her equine force-free journey, she began noticing the transposing of information between equine positive training and her puppy class teaching and found the differences and similarities intriguing. Consequently, she is now on a learning curve to take those force-free principles from dog training and apply them to equine training. She also enjoys watching and learning about differences between species by observing the behavior of her own multiple horses, dogs, and sheep.

BARKS from the Guild/September 2021


b e h a v i o r

Contradictions and Subtleties In this final part of her series on body language, Kathie Gregory moves into the realm of cats and dogs in addition to horses, focusing specifically on the behaviors and vocalizations associated with play

© Can Stock Photo / Virgonira

Play can be difficult to read as the instincts and motivations that contribute to how an animal plays are not always obvious; we need to look closer to determine how each individual animal is actually feeling


t takes time to recognize the nuances of body language and vocaliza­ tions, and to be able to differentiate between when they are in tune with each other and when there is conflict between the two. But with practice, we can learn to interpret the language of animals inter­ acting with people and other animals.

Positive Emotional State So let’s start with what we might typically expect to see in a positive vs. negative state of mind during an interaction. When an animal is in a positive emotional state, soft body language is more relaxed and the body looks fluid, easy, and open. The positioning of the body is in tune with, and relevant to, the activity and the animal or person they are with. Sharper, quicker body language has an enthusiasm about it — but is still fluid. It still retains its open quality, and positioning remains in tune with the fellow participant. Movements are generally equal be­ tween participants, who compensate for each other as they are in tune with each other and the activity. They participate together. Soft vocalization has a rich, open quality to it. The tone is inviting and those who hear it feel safe, and that the animal is happy. When the animal is more enthusiastic, we still hear a rich open tone, but it can be louder and have a throatier aspect. It also tends to be more precise. And it can often be lengthened.


BARKS from the Guild/September 2021

Negative Emotional State Conversely, when an animal is in a negative emotional state, soft body language looks contained and is not fluid or open. The positioning of the body is more about protecting oneself, but this may not be overt; it can be very subtle. Sharper, quicker body language has an intensity to it. It can look like there is a purpose to the movement, which tells you that there is some sort of intent within the mind. Unlike soft body language in a negative emotional state, these intense movements are fluid, but there are definite start and stop moments compared to the ongoing flu­ idity of positive body language. It is also less open, so you see slight dif­ ferences in the positioning of the body in relation to the animal or person they are around. Also, rather than compensating for the other, you can see that the animal is no longer in tune with his participant and is doing his own thing, not acting with the togetherness you see with positive body language. Soft vocalization can have a reedy or throaty tone to it. It sounds as though there is a constriction within the throat, stopping the sound from being full and rounded. The tone makes you take notice, but there is no surety from the animal as to which way his emotions will go. When the animal is in a stronger negative emotional state, the voice becomes more strident and sharper. It often becomes staccato, but equally it can be long and drawn out.

b e h a v i o r When an animal is in a positive emotional state, soft body language is more relaxed and the body looks fluid, easy, and open. The positioning of the body is in tune with, and relevant to, the activity and the animal or person they are with. It should be easy to identify emotions when there is a strong posi­ tive or negative response, but this is not always the case. Generally, we see a strong response as a negative, and a soft response as a positive. But if we look at the nuances, we can see that it is not that simple. When animals play, we can see the range of nuances and subtleties in behavior that reflect individual emotional states: positive, negative, or conflicted.

Play Behavior I’m now going to present a really good example of how we sometimes assume that a strong response is negative. Some clients of mine were having problems with their two young cats. They did not like each other and would fight when together. One cat chased the other all the way through the house, and by the time the owners reached the two cats, the other one was doing the chasing back through the house. They were both quite intense, with lots of vocalizations. The owners rarely let them be together as they were scared the cats would injure each other. Upon observing the situation, it was immedi­ ately obvious to me that the two cats were having a whale of a time! The play was equal, body language was open, and vocalization, whilst loud and throaty, was actually open and resonant. There were no signs of defensiveness, being out of synch with each other, or strident vocal­ ization. We do have to be mindful that when things get intense, we may see a change from a positive to a negative emotional state. Giving the cats the chance to have a good play, while checking their emotions did not intensify, allowed them to wear themselves out, feel satisfied, and settle down together. Once the owners realized that the cats were not fight­ ing, they relaxed and the cats were no longer separated. As we can see, we still have to look at body language and vocaliza­ tions, even when we think it is obvious what is going on. Play is one ac­ tivity where it is easier to see the subtle differences in body language compared to other situations, if you are not used to reading nuance. You can use this information to pick up on the less easy to see subtle body language animals display when they are in different situations, new environments and when meeting people and animals. So, let’s look at the two scenarios that are easiest to identify first. When both animals are in a positive emotional state, play is equal. The participants do not necessarily make the same types of movements, but they take turns and synchronize their actions. There is give and take, and even though the animals may not be doing the same actions, they are pausing and adjusting for each other. Body language is open, whether the play is relaxed or more intense. Vocalizations are also open and rounded, and they may also be relaxed or more intense. When one animal is in a negative emotional state, we see play that is not equal. The participants are less aware of each other and rather than being in tune, they are doing their own thing, without adjusting for the other. Body language is not so open for either of them. Even if one of them is in a positive emotional state, there is not the cooperation be­ tween the two animals that leads to openness. Vocalizations are also less open for both animals. We hear a pinched and sharper tone of voice. However, play can be even more difficult to read. The instincts and motivations that contribute to how the animal plays are not always ob­ vious, and so we need to look closer to determine how the animal is feeling.

BARKS from the Guild/September 2021


b e h a v i o r

© Can Stock Photo / raywoo

© Can Stock Photo / EEI_Tony

When both animals are in a positive emotional state, participants take turns, synchronize their actions, and adjust to each other accordingly

When animals play we can see the range of nuances and subtleties in behavior that reflect individual emotional states, positive, negative, or conflicted


nice equal play, which just happens to include a breed instinct as part of the repertoire of movements, or if this is not healthy, equal play and we have a potential issue. Sometimes we see play where one animal is not moving much, let­ ting the other run around and return, only to be sent away again to run around. How can we tell if this is good play, or if there is a potential issue? There could be many reasons for this type of interaction; the less active animal may not be completely, comfortable, may have mobility is­ sues, or is tired, or just not that interested. In the case of dogs, the herding instinct may be showing in the more active dog. Or is it just how these animals play together? Subtle differences in body language and vocalization can identify which of the possible reasons is correct. Look at the subtleties of the less active dog’s body language. Is it receptive? What is the position of the ears, and tail? How is the body aligned in relation to the other dog? Then, we look at the dog that is doing all the running. Is he relaxed and open in his body language, or does he seem to have an intensity that may mean he has a purpose other than trying to get the standing dog to run with him? Do they pause and wait for each other? Or is it constant movement from one and constant pushing away from the other? Finally, with all play, can it be interrupted? This does not mean the animals must be capable of stopping play straight away; it can mean they are able to listen and adjust as they continue. This gives you a good

Here's an example of how breed instincts can blur things. A dog that has an instinct for coursing game can often perform that movement when playing with a smaller dog. We see the dog reach down to grab the smaller one as they run together. Is the larger dog playing or not? We need to look at the subtleties of body language to determine this. For example, is the play equal, despite different actions from the dogs? If it is equal, the behavior is more likely to be play. If not, could there be another reason for play not being equal? Is the smaller dog comfortable with the big dog’s actions? If he is, unequal play is likely just the result of the different playing styles and how each dog adjusts what he does to engage, or not, with a specific action. Alternatively, does the smaller dog’s body language seem closed? If he is not comfortable, is the larger dog just trying harder to engage the smaller dog? Are the larger dog's instincts showing in play? Is there an intensity to the larger dog’s movements? Does he look like he has a pur­ pose? If he does, that might lead us to think he may have tipped into in­ stinct, and is no longer playing. We need to look at the position of the ears, the tail, and the softness or sharpness of the body as it moves — for both dogs. We also look at how they are when they are close to­ gether compared to when they are further apart. Does anything change when they get close and the larger dog tries to grab the smaller dog? All these things tell us how each dog is feeling and whether this is

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BARKS from the Guild/September 2021

b e h a v i o r indication of how aware the brain is. If intensity in play has caused the emotional mind to take over, there is potentially an issue. If the intellec­ tual mind can still hear what you are saying, this is far less likely to be the case because the mind is not in overarousal.

Overarousal Overarousal can increase intensity, as if the animal is trying to achieve something. It looks a bit like there is a purpose. Play is not so free and easy. Hormones, instincts and neurological development can also affect how animals play. As an animal's arousal increases, we see less fluid movement; there is purpose, maybe stop and start, and sharper actions. Vocalizations tend to be more rough, high, and intense. The change in body language and vocalization may be obvious enough to draw your at­ tention, or it may be that you just have a gut feeling something is not quite right, but you can’t quite see what. If we feel it is safe to do so, this is when we really need to look closely for those subtle signs: play may look like there is intent and that it is negative, when in fact it is still positive but just needs guidance. And sometimes, it looks positive, but actually the subtle signs tell you that it is negative, a potential issue, and that we should intervene safely, but promptly. As we can see, there are many contradictions in the subtleties of body language and vocalization. Accurately reading and interpreting what an animal is actually feeling and what he is likely to do depends on putting all this communication together while taking into account the personality of the animal and the situation he is in at the time. n

When an animal is in a negative emotional state, soft body language looks contained and is not fluid and open. The positioning of the body is more about protecting oneself, but this may not be overt; it can be very subtle. Resources Gregory, K. (2021, July). Found in Translation. BARKS from the Guild (49) 46-49 Gregory, K. (2021, March). Understanding Animals. BARKS from the Guild (47) 50-51 Gregory, K. (2021, May). The Complete Picture. BARKS from the Guild (48) 48-51 Kathie Gregory is a qualified animal behavior consultant, presenter and author, specializing in advanced cognition and emotional intelligence. Passionate about raising standards and awareness in how we teach and work with animals, she has developed Free Will TeachingTM, a concept that provides the framework for animals to enjoy life without compromising their own free will. She has authored two books, A tale of two horses: a passion for free will teaching, and A Puppy Called Wolfie: a passion for free will teaching, and her work is currently divided between working with clients, mentoring, and writing.

The A-Z of Training and Behavior Brought to you by R is for... Rapid-Fire Clicking and Reinforcing: The act of repeatedly clicking and reinforcing in order to communicate to your pet that she is to hold the current position. This is often how a pet is taught to hold a sit, down, or stand position with the rate of reinforcement being gradually reduced as the reinforcement history is developed.

Reset Cookie: A process that makes use of giving a free cookie or reinforcement that is non-contingent of the goal behavior to avoid loss of motivation. If you lose a pets’ motivation you have nothing to train, thus the use of a reset cookie/treat, while undermining stimulus control, is valuable to the training process and likely falls within the realm of the art of training.

Ratio Strain: A sharp decrease in responding as a result of a reinforcement schedule being too quickly thinned out. Ex. A pet that is used to getting a click and a treat every time she performs a behavior is unable to perform five behaviors in a row without a treat.

Resistance to Extinction: If a pet continues to perform the target behavior once reinforcement is taken away, is it called resistant to extinction. Behaviors reinforced variably are more resistant to extinction.

Reinforcer Assessment: Evaluating what type of reinforcers and reinforcement an individual pet finds reinforcing. Usually some reinforcers are vastly preferred over others. This creates a hierarchy of reinforcers which is very valuable information to the trainer who can pair more highly valued reinforcers for more difficult behaviors.

Respondent Extinction: Respondent extinction is the process of repeatedly presenting a conditioned stimulus without presenting an unconditioned stimulus, so the conditioned response gets weaker and weaker. The conditioned stimulus – unconditioned stimulus contingency is dissolved.

From: A Lexicon of Practical Terms for Pet Trainers & Behavior Consultants: The language you need to know! by DogNostics Career Center. Available from:

BARKS from the Guild/September 2021


Today’s PPG Junior Members are Tomorrow’s Pet Industry Leaders

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uild The Association for Force-Free Pet Professionals


A Force for Positive Change Anna Bradley discusses advancements in training and behavior over the 20 years she has been practicing, highlighting the positive changes she has seen and their contribution to an improvement in dog welfare


lthough I’ve been completely surrounded by animals of all vari­ eties all my life, I jumped wholeheartedly into the world of train­ ing and behavior as a career in 2001. In these intervening 20 years there have, thankfully, been seismic shifts in how we view our re­ lationships with animals, how we treat them, how we interact with them, how we relate to them, and our perceptions of them – over really quite a short space of time. In a lot of respects, there’s still a long way to go, but changes for the better have at least been kick­started. I have always been surrounded, from my very early days, by what others around me have termed “awkward” animals. At the outset, these were horses who were attributed labels such as “difficult,” “willful,” “belligerent,” and even “bad” or “nasty,” sometimes with a few exple­ tives thrown in for good measure. But even at the early age of 10 years, I felt empathy towards these animals and knew that something must be causing them to behave in a certain way. I knew they were not worthy of such simplistic tags and that there was a reason for why they did what they did, and when they did it. I went no further in my exploration at that time but I could, at least, distinguish between me wondering why an animal would behave in a certain way and the majority of others who, it seemed, found it appropriate to ascribe a descriptive label and then punish the behavior without bothering to consider a cause. It always upset me to be told to “bully” or “get the better” of a horse, but I wasn’t one to hang the tack up and leave. I liked to spend time hanging out and making friends, long after the horse riding had fin­ ished. This is where my initial listening and learning took place, although I didn’t know it back then. I have always said that these early experi­ ences, that included a lot of tears and struggles – but also a lot of just watching at field gates, observing behavior and, above all, listening to and respecting the animals – were the reasons why I got into this pro­ fession. Those animals were, and still are, my greatest teachers.

Mindset I started my own training and behavior business in 2001. Coming into that from the late 1990s, there was very little talk of dog behavior in the UK media, no TV programs and, of course, social media had not yet been born. Certainly, in my geographical area, traditional aversive and punitive methods were prevalent, including water pistols, scent collars, shock devices, smacking, training discs, dominance methods (nose flick­ ing, alpha rolls, pinning to the floor), etc. Commonly encountered phrases were things like, “dogs must know their place,” and the owners “must be in charge” etc. Commonly, owners worried that their dogs

There is also a fine balance between riding roughshod over someone’s beliefs and the practical handling they have been instigating for decades, and handling the situation with sensitivity. You can’t simply go charging in and tell someone everything they have done in their 40 years of owning dogs is completely wrong.

© Can Stock Photo / cynoclub

Author Anna Bradley has found a shift in mindset amongst dog owners in the years she has been practicing, with a growing focus on their pets’ mental stimulation and enrichment

were getting “above their station” and required “de­ranking.” Outdated dominance theory was absolutely everywhere when I first started out. I sometimes felt like ripping out my hair the number of times I heard owners talk about their dogs “being dominant,” often thanks to cer­ tain individuals who were popularizing the theory at the time. It was very hard, therefore, to try to change people’s mindsets. It was just me at the time, new, untested and someone to be skeptical of. My views were very different. I saw dogs as respected partners in a relation­ ship. If there was a problem within that dynamic, for instance, if a dog had started to behave aggressively, my thoughts were not immediately to punish but to think what had happened to cause that behavioral change. Nowadays, we think of this as the norm but even just 20 years ago, based on my own experience, things were different. In fact, even now I still battle at times to help some owners understand this. Attitudes and beliefs can be hard to change (see also ‘Words Matter’ on pp. 24‐28). There is also a fine balance between riding roughshod over some­ one’s beliefs and the practical handling they have been instigating for decades, and handling the situation with sensitivity. You can’t simply go

BARKS from the Guild/September 2021



© Can Stock Photo / eldadcarin

© Can Stock Photo / semenovp

Enrichment has become something of a buzzword in recent years, with dog owners Dogs today are often seen much more as part of the family than in the past; more than, simply, “the dog” using food puzzles and toys to provide both physical and mental stimulation

charging in and tell someone that everything they have done in their 40 years of owning dogs is completely wrong. Rather, you have to apply empathy. Pick out the positives where they are evident and carefully in­ dicate where they might change aspects for the good of their dog and, crucially, show them how it will benefit both of them in the future and work better than what they did previously.

Old School In the earlier years, I found that owners were less inclined to want to “do stuff” with their dogs. The onus was more on basic “obedience,” possibly with a follow­on course, and that was it. I deliberately use in­ verted commas there because the language of training has changed a lot. Personally, and like most of us as force­free trainers, I no longer talk about “obedience,” or “telling a dog to do something,” or refer to “com­ mands.” For me, that is real old school and smacks of coercion and force. I think it is much more progressive and representative of progres­ sion to talk about “starters,” or “manners,” as well as “asking a dog to do something” and referring to “cues.” The connotation is, obviously, com­ pletely different (again, see also ‘Words Matter’ on pp. 24‐28). Nowadays, I find that dog owners are often much more focused on their dog’s mental stimulation and enrichment, i.e. what they can offer him in addition to basic physical and/or mental exercise (e.g. sensory courses such as nose work, agility, flyball, dog sports etc.). I think this has been a real shift. Enrichment has become a buzzword, if you like, over the last few years. Certainly, in my behavior practice we talk a lot about the different types of enrichment that can be offered, as well as comple­ mentary additions that complete a holistic behavioral package.

The language of training has changed a lot. Personally, and like most of us as force-free trainers, I no longer talk about “obedience,” or “telling a dog to do something,” or refer to “commands.” For me, that is real old school and smacks of coercion and force.


BARKS from the Guild/September 2021

Family Dogs today are often seen much more as part of the family and not just as “the dog.” For some of us, they are our “fur babies,” or “fur kids.” And we may be calling ourselves dog guardians or pet parents. These name tags didn’t really exist before. We are now more willing to exert the effort into solving behavior problems when they occur, in the form of one­to­one training or behavior consultations. It upsets us when something does go wrong and it affects our family dynamic. If there is someone who can help, we are willing to take that opportunity. There is also a plethora of information out there on TV shows, social media, in­ ternet etc. This can help owners recognize potential behavior and train­ ing issues in their pets, whereas previously these may have gone unrecognized or simply ignored. For example, we now recognize that a dog becoming destructive or vocal when left alone may possibly be a symptom of separation distress. But there are also negatives with so much information available. Everyone is an expert! The problem here is that the advice offered is sometimes conflicting and may not be very good. Although we now have the ability to garner so much information, a lot of it is not suitable for the individual dog for whom it is being sought. Meanwhile, behavioral science, theory and techniques have devel­ oped massively. I don’t mind admitting that I would do things differently if I could work with my previous dogs again now. The same applies if I were to encounter cases I met with back in 2001. That’s the nature of progression and an evolution of thinking. It’s sad in a way that I didn’t have the depth of knowledge I have now to help my own dogs and to progress my client’s dogs a little fur­ ther, but that’s reflection and the beauty of self­evaluation. I wish I had had the tools, skills, and experience I have now when I think back to my previous dogs and their particular challenges. I went so far and achieved great things, but I know I could have understood them a little better. Sometimes I think back to their little foibles that perhaps didn’t quite make sense to me back then, but now I have a much greater under­ standing. If we don’t move with the times, embrace new developments and thinking that challenges our own, or be open to trying new things, it is absolutely no good for animal behavioral welfare, in my opinion.

consulting Equipment Matching the huge advances in scientific thinking has been the prolific growth of dog accessories. Certainly, 20 years ago there was not such a market. Nowadays, products that are kinder are easily available. Many manufacturers now consider dog comfort when walking and training, producing harnesses that do not pinch or work on pressure points. Softer material and padding are applied to products to avoid chafing; multiple support items exist to assist dogs with medical needs; there is a huge market geared towards dogs with dietary issues, and so on. Unfor­ tunately, aversive products do still exist on the shelves but at the same time there has been an explosion in dog­related paraphernalia over the last couple of decades aimed at providing comfort, care and support, and not just being practical and functional. There is also a growing shift towards kindness and positive training methods, propelled by organizations such as PPG and others who are committed to consigning harsh and outdated theory and methods to history. In the U.K., attempts have been made for several years now to fully regulate the training and behavior industry so that individuals prac­ ticing can be fully vetted. For me, this is long overdue as a way to weed out those still practicing with no qualifications and implementing hope­ lessly outdated theory. Nevertheless, the advances that have been made, both in the industry and in dog ownership, can only benefit dogs and improve their welfare. While there are some who are still resistant to change, it is hoped that these will, in time, become a minority as the force for positive change prevails. n 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 in Hexham, Northumberland, where the aim is always to create and restore happy relationships between dog and guardian in a relaxed way, using methods based on sound scientific principles, which are both force-free and fun.

BARKS from the Guild/September 2021



Ask the Experts: Overcoming Roadblocks Veronica Boutelle explains how to improve marketing and business practices to ensure a smooth client journey that will fill up your schedule and help your business to thrive


: I’m hoping you can help. I’ve been in business for nine years. My clients are very happy. I know because they say nice things to me and give me great testimonials and I can see the progress their dogs make. The problem is, I don’t have enough clients to fill my schedule even after all these years. I have a nice website. I do some marketing. I always return phone calls in a timely manner. I try to follow your advice about pricing and consults and packages and making the sale, and I think I do all that pretty well. If I get a consult, I usually get a package, too. I just need to get my schedule full and keep it that way. I promised myself 10 years to make this work. That anniversary is only a year away now. I really love this work but at some point I’ve got to start making a good enough living to save for the future. What am I missing? A: We don’t want you to quit, either! Okay, that said, let’s get down to figuring this out. It’s a little tricky given that I can’t ask you any ques­ tions or see your website or your marketing plans and materials. But you’ve given me some good clues to work with… First, though, let’s celebrate what’s already working. It sounds like once you get a client to commit to a consult you’re good to go. Nice work there! You’ve told me you’re following our rate setting and packag­ ing advice, so you’re setting yourself up for strong revenue from each client, in addition to setting the client up for success. That’s excellent, because once we get your volume up you’ll be in great shape. So, to that volume issue. Lack of volume usually points to a few key culprits. One is marketing. You say you’re doing some, which is terrific. If you aren’t getting a lot of inquiries to begin with, though, the questions I’d ask are: Is it enough? Is it the right marketing (aimed at your target clients)? Is it in the right places (to reach those target clients)? The fact that your conversion rate is strong once you get a consult leans me to­ ward the worry that you’re simply not getting in front of enough of the right dog lovers. Thankfully, that’s a solvable problem!

© Can Stock Photo / damedeeso

Once a client commits to training, professional trainers should consider what services they can offer to keep the client with them for longer — both for their own benefit and for the client­dog team

Bumpy Ride Another possible culprit is unintended offramps along your client jour­ ney. This is something we’ve been focusing on recently with our THRIVE! members. Think of the client journey as every experience a dog lover has with your business, starting from when they first hear about you through their work with you as a client and beyond. We want that jour­ ney to be smooth but sometimes we accidentally forget to put up sign­ posts, or we inadvertently construct roadblocks or miss potholes or even sinkholes in the path, which means losing people along the way. If you aren’t getting a lot of inquiries, your client journey may be missing some signposts, like the right marketing in the right places as I suggested earlier. You also mentioned you have a nice website (so glad

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business The journey shouldn’t end once the client commits to training. After you troubleshoot and strengthen the path potential clients take to become actual ones, the next step in building a successful, thriving business is looking at how to extend that journey. you invested there!) but take a look to make sure this important piece of your client journey is well­marked with clear and complete informa­ tion, good navigation, and strong calls­to­action. If you’re getting inquiries but not converting as many as you’d like into consults, look for gaps or roadblocks in your journey there. Asking for a long, written questionnaire before booking is a common road­ block, for example. Being too timid about following up with potential clients after chatting by phone or email is a common gap. Basically, is there anywhere that you’re making things harder than they need to be for potential clients or losing touch with them? Speaking of losing touch, here’s an extra piece of client journey ad­ vice: The journey shouldn’t end once the client commits to training. After you troubleshoot and strengthen the path potential clients take to become actual ones, the next step in building a successful, thriving busi­ ness is looking at how to extend that journey. What services can you offer to keep clients with you longer for your benefit and for theirs? Something to think about down the line… Speaking of down the line, I hope we’ll be hearing from you again to celebrate your 10­year anniversary—and your 20th, too! n We hear THRIVE!, dogbiz’ group coaching program, will be opening to new members sometime this fall (or autumn if you’re outside North America!). Their waitlist is here. We recommend getting on it now! And don’t miss their ads on pages 23 and 58 for more info ‐ Ed.

© Can Stock Photo / Germano_Poli

Professional trainers sometimes forget to put up clear signposts, or inadvertently construct roadblocks, or miss potholes in the path, so they end up losing clients along the way instead of retaining them and providing further services

Veronica Boutelle MA Ed CTC is founder and co-president of dog*biz, 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.

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Pet Training and Behavior Consulting: A Model for Raising the Bar to Protect Professionals, Pets and Their People Pet Training and Behavior Consulting: A Model for Raising the Bar to Protect Professionals, Pets and Their People is a newly published book in which the authors present their views on: • •

• • •

The need for a level and model of oversight in the fields of pet training and behavior consulting and for those choosing to practice within them. The prevalence of individuals who hold no credentials, formal education, knowledge or skills, yet who are today working across the nation with full responsibility for the well-being and welfare of their unknowing clients’ treasured pets. The lack of consumer protection and transparency across the marketing and operations platforms of many pet-related businesses. The inherent weakness in how pets are legally classified. How the current lack of reported and enforced animal cruelty laws means there is insufficient protection when it comes to holding pet professionals accountable for their methods, approach and philosophies toward their craft and the pets they serve.

The authors advise on the pertinence of all these issues to the development of an infrastructure for oversight to support the professional evolution of the pet training and behavior industry while providing a complete recommended implementation model from which to do so.

"I would urge anyone interested in the direction of the industry to get a copy. It has been invaluable for a project I am involved in, and identifies and clarifies really important aspects of the industry that desperately need addressing. Even as an individual practitioner it provides a great resource for identifying best practice." - Andrew Hale, chair of association of INTOdogs "Check out this groundbreaking new resource for the pet training and behavior consulting industry written by the best in the business." - Paula Garber, owner of LIFELINE Cat Behavior Solutions and chairwoman of the Pet Professional Guild Feline Committee "Reliable, scientifically accurate behavioral information from experts in the field." - Gallivan Burwell, owner of Upward Dog Training & Counseling


Available in the Print and E‐Book Format from: DogNostics Education BARKS from Guild/September 2021 Available as a PDF from:

p r o f i l e

An Unexpected Conversation In our ongoing series of PPG member profiles, this month BARKS features Arlene Frater of Calm Canine Training in West Lothian, Scotland


rlene Frater runs Calm Canine Training in Broxburn, which is in the county of West Lothian, Scotland in the United Kingdom.

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 met another dog walker one day and got engaged in a conversa­ tion all about dominance theory. Before I knew it, I was completing a dog training course with the Victoria Stilwell Academy (VSA) and I haven’t looked back since. The other dog walker is now doing the same course and we are running training classes together. Q: Why did you become a trainer/pet care provider? A: I have always loved animals. I wanted to be a vet but academia wasn’t my strong point. I did lots of work with horses, and helped at local vets and a small farm. Having children took over for a while, but then my friend opened her own day care and dog walking business and needed some help. From there, that unexpected conversation with a stranger opened up the world of training and then the VSA dog training course opened up a new world for me. Q: Tell us a little bit about your own pets. A: I have two yellow Labradors: Salt, who is 2 years old, and May, who is 5 years old. My friend is a breeder and I was lucky enough to be chosen to get those two. They’re fun and very well driven. They are a pair of cuddle monsters who also love a game of bitey face!

Arlene Frater with her Labradors Salt and May

Q: What do you consider to be your area of expertise? A: Training owners to be calm and help them improve the bond with their dog.

Q: Are you a crossover trainer or have you always been a force‐free trainer? A: Always force­free.

© Arlene Frater

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Topics may include a particular aspect of training, ethology, learning theory, behavior specifics... anything at all your fellow pet professionals would find educational.

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BARKS from the Guild/September 2021


p r o f i l e “Dogs are family, or so people say, but they don’t always understand how dogs learn or how to help them adjust to our human world.” - Arlene Frater Q: What drives you to be a force‐free professional and why is it impor‐ tant to you? A: Dogs are family, or so people say, but they don’t always understand how dogs learn or how to help them adjust to our human world. I want to help owners build their bond with their dog so they can both enjoy the relationship. Dogs are amazing communicators; we just need to learn to better understand them. Q: What is your favorite part of your job? A: The look on owners’ faces when they see their dog learn and under­ stand something without constant repetition of the cue. Q: What are some of your favorite positive reinforcement techniques for the most commonly encountered behavior issues? A: Focus, focus and more focus; games with dogs to encourage them to want to check in and be with their person; and LAT [Look at That] – I have had amazing results with this technique. Plus DRI [Differential Re­ inforcement of an Incompatible Behavior] – adding to the LAT behavior to really solidify the positive association with the distraction/scary thing, etc. Q: What is the reward you get out of a day's training with people and their pets?: A: The change in the owner’s way of dealing with their dog and the bond that comes with that.

Q: What is the funniest or craziest situation you have been in with a pet and their guardian? A: Working with an owner and their two dogs. We were teaching ‘mid­ dle’ to both dogs. The owner shouted the cue out in the middle of the field where we were training, and both dogs came running straight through her legs sending her flying. It was certainly an excellent ‘mid­ dle!’ Q: What awards or competition placements have you and your pet(s) achieved using force‐free methods? A: None, I don’t compete. Q: Who has most influenced your career and how? A: Claire Staines of Lothlorien Dog Services, with her passion and life­ long commitment to helping people understand how to train dogs and how to enrich their lives. She was my mentor for my course with VSA. She pushed me to be the best I could be and to think outside the box. Q: What advice would you give to a new trainer starting out? A: Take your time, be realistic and be honest about what you know. Be professional and refer on if needed, but ask to shadow that trainer so you can learn. Never be frightened to ask for help. Q: How has PPG helped you to become a more complete trainer? A: The information PPG provides, the opportunity to network with other members, and the open discussions. Especially for someone new like me, there is so much information out there and to have access to so much in one place has been amazing. n

Calm Canine Training is located in West Lothian, Scotland, U.K.

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BARKS from the Guild/September 2021

There Is No Excuse


It’s time to ban shock collars I would say that, as with any helping professional, your first and primary obligation is to do no harm, and we have compelling evidence that applying shock, either systematically or randomly, to domestic dogs increases their general level of stress and discomfort. So given that knowledge, there simply is no ethical rationale for using it. Janis Bradley,

Director of Communications and Publications, National Canine Research Council

If there’s a tool which causes pain or discomfort, it has the potential of creating other problems. As animal care professionals, I feel that if we...can’t find kinder, gentler ways of doing something, then maybe we are in the wrong profession. Ken Ramirez, Executive VP and CTO, Karen Pryor Clicker Training

“Until these devices are illegal, consumers must protect themselves and their dogs by looking beyond the marketing messages of those who profit from their sale and use. It is not necessary to use electric shock to change behavior. It is not necessary in humans, in zoo species, in marine mammals or in dogs.” Jean Donaldson, Author, Train Your Dog Like a Pro

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