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Free-Feeding From A Bowl Can Be Costly!

  Food is sustenance; it keeps us alive, it fuels our activities, but for most of us it is emotional comfort. Food can trigger wonderful memories of family gatherings, or console us when we’re sick or upset, so no wonder we want to show our love for our pets with food. And it behoves us not to set down a big bowl of “love” so our pets can graze all day long. The problem is that pets, such as our dogs do not equate food with love; they don’t respect… Continued

How To Train Your Dog to Stand Using Capturing

  When people consider how to teach a dog to stand, they usually envision the action of standing up. They focus on getting the dog up on their feet from a sit or a down. But that’s the hard way to start, especially since by the time most people get to training stand, they have reinforced the dog a billion times for sitting or lying down. But most dogs also stand, right? Unless a dog is very old or has a physical problem, she probably stands frequently. We don’t have to start by… Continued

Working Dogs Want to Have Fun, Too

Off-duty working dogs enjoy many of the same dog sports as pet dogs … but training for and competing with a career dog raises some interesting questions. Deni Elliott, whose guide dog, Alberta, has nearly earned her Rally Advanced Excellent title, but their start in the sport was a bit bumpy. Deni needs a sighted guide (human) to read the signs to her, but that was the easy part. The biggest adjustment was for Alberta, who had to figure out that, not only was she not supposed to guide Deni… Continued

Progressive Zoos Never Use Aversive Punishment — Should You?

This series of blog posts recounts topics drawn from the Pet Professional Guild Radio Show, featuring Linda Michaels (2). Question: What are some of the benefits of using Positive Reinforcement (+R)? Answer: The benefits of using Positive Reinforcement training with our companion animals are pretty much the opposite of the drawbacks of using aversive punishment. Goodness, today, all progressive zoos and wild animal parks use management and positive reinforcement ONLY even with large and potentially dangerous animals. (See Video from San Diego Safari Park and the San Diego Zoo). Surely, we can train our… Continued

Pet Professional Guild Announces Third International Chapter, PPG Singapore

The Pet Professional Guild (PPG) continues with its quest to promote humane, scientifically sound training methods for pets worldwide with the opening of its first international chapter in South East Asia, PPG Singapore. The Singapore Chapter represents the third overseas launch in just six months, following the successful establishment of PPG British Isles and PPG Australia. PPG is a pet industry organization that currently represents animal training, behavior and pet care professionals in over 26 countries, all of whom are committed to results-based, science-based, force-free methods. The new chapter will… Continued

Let’s Get Tricking

Why I Believe We Should All Be Teaching Our Dogs To Do Tricks. You probably don’t realize it but you have already taught your dog to do lots of tricks! Have you taught your dog to sit, lie down, stand, stay or come? Have you taught your dog how to fetch a ball to your hand? Have you taught your dog to zigzag in and out of weave-poles? Name a behavior and I will tell you it is a “trick”. The words behavior and trick are often interchangeable. Trick dog… Continued

Defining the “C” in PCT-A

The Pet Professional Guild and force-free training are on my mind on a daily basis and I often think about the trainer certifications I have worked for. I have always been introspective and try to understand things on a deeper level in a world that seems to grow more superficial with every internet post. Lately I have been thinking about the deeper meaning PCT-A credentials have for me, and how that may extend to the community of professional trainers at large. Specifically, I wish to define the “C” in PCT-A… Continued

A Dog’s World

Do dogs see in color or black and white? How did my dog know that a thunderstorm was coming? Why does my dog bark when no one is there? How curious the dog’s world must be for them to respond so differently to their surroundings than we would often expect. Though we share the same surroundings, dogs perceive their environment quite differently than humans do. To begin to understand these creatures, we must try to wrap our heads around how they perceive their environment. Having a clear concept of the… Continued

People Skills for Dog Trainers

Being a dog trainer is great. I love training dogs. But, I also love teaching people. Being a dog trainer requires a huge and unique set of skills. First, you must be adept at recognizing and understanding canine behavior. Then, you need to develop the manual skills to teach that non- verbal being to follow your cues and live in a world with vague rules that have no parallel in the canine world. Once you have mastered the dog communication and training portion, you need to have people skills. Included… Continued

Defining Empathy

Over the last decade there has been an increasing awareness of the need to think, and act, empathically within healthcare settings; this information could be very useful for us. Helen Reiss MD of Harvard Medical School reports a variety of benefits to both patients and clinicians by including; greater patient satisfaction; better medical outcomes for patients; greater job satisfaction and reduced burnout for professionals; better adherence to treatment recommendations.   The research has been so influential an organization called E.M.P.A.T.H.Y ™ has been founded to educate healthcare professionals in how to… Continued

The Mad Hatter

  As a dog trainer, I wear my “professional hat” when I patiently educate my clients to help them resolve their dog’s behavioral issues. The joke is that when I get home, the last thing I want to do is start training my own dogs. I think the saying, “The cobbler’s children have no shoes” fits here. But I’ve come to realize that my relationship with my dogs (and cat) is so much more than just teaching them certain behaviors and consequently, I wear a variety of “hats” with them,… Continued

Please Go Away: Dog Body Language Study

One of the things I am very grateful for in my life with dogs is that my current three get along. They don’t adore each other, but two of them, Clara and Zani, actually play together and are comfortable in each other’s space bubbles. Zani helped “bring up” Clara, even though Clara got pretty obnoxious pretty fast as a pup. And both of them manage to get along with Summer, who would really prefer to be the only dog in the world. Or at least the only female. But thank… Continued

Pet Professional Guild New Advocacy Videos

Advocacy Videos 1. Calling Veterinarians & Pet Professionals. Let’s Work Together!   2. A Call For Change. Say No To Prong and Choke Collars!     Checkout the link to our PPG Advocacy Page. Click here

Get Healthy, Get a Dog

I was excited when I read about Get Healthy, Get a Dog, a new report from the Harvard Medical School that describes the connections between life with a dog (or dogs) and better health. The article I read was very enthusiastic, and I immediately purchased a copy of the report, a collaboration between Harvard Medical School and Angell Animal Medical Center (in Boston). A few days later, I settled in to read the whole 50-page document … and was deeply disappointed . It’s not that the report contains anything negative.… Continued

Pet Professionals: Keeping It Objective

A dog’s behavior can many times cause the owner to experience feelings of embarrassment or even failure. Such feelings can be detrimental in the trainer/behavior consultant-client relationship and can certainly adversely affect the outcome of any training protocols that are put into place. When owners shut down or withhold information, behavior professionals will lack the necessary information with which to proceed. Yet while information obtained from an owner can be patchy, subjective, and even anthropomorphic in nature, owners are in fact the greatest source of information regarding their animal’s behavior… Continued

What Does Citronella Really Do to a Dog?

My ‘Paws for Thoughts’ blogs are just what they say – thoughts. I don’t profess to be an expert on my subject matter or feel that we should believe everything we read, but it should always make one think. This train of thought started with an email I received the other morning from a man with a cocker spaniel, Bertie. The four-year-old dog was now on his third home. A couple of months previously this client had canceled his appointment with me because my simple telephone advice had worked instantly. Obviously I was… Continued

Confession of a Professional Dog Trainer

My name is Daniel H. Antolec. I am a professional certified force-free trainer…and I own a shock collar. Not only do I own a shock collar, but it is among my most prized possessions and is proudly displayed in my library of 45 books and 25 DVDs on training and behavior. You see, once upon a time I met a little dog named Pete and his owner, Penelope. I changed their names for this blog but the story is factual. Pete was six weeks old when Penelope obtained him. He… Continued

The Impact of Using Shock to Train Recall

This series of blog posts recounts topics drawn from a recent guest segment by Linda Michaels on the Pet Professional Guild Radio Show. Question: Can you tell us if you think training an emergency recall with P+ (positive punishment such as a shock collar) could, in any way, be preferable to using R+ (positive reinforcement, such as a treat or affection)? Answer: This is such an important topic because both shock collar trainers and so-called “balanced trainers often use recall/come in demonstrations to the public or online, as a way to impress… Continued


    AN OPEN LETTER TO THE SCOTTISH PARLIAMENT REGARDING THE USE OF SHOCK IN DOG TRAINING To download this as a PDF Click here   The Pet Professional Guild (PPG) believes unequivocally that the pet-owning general public needs – and deserves – to have increased access to better education to help ensure that all pet animals live in safe, nurturing and stable environments. Such environments can go a long way towards preventing behavioural issues. However, depending on an individual dog’s genetics, environment and early learning experiences, behaviour problems may… Continued

Shaping without a Clicker

Most trainers agree that if there is one thing that the tool called a clicker is useful for in particular, it is for shaping behavior. Shaping consists of marking and reinforcing successive approximations towards a goal behavior. When shaping, the trainer can find herself needing to mark very small or quick movements indeed, sometimes just a weight shift or a breath. When that is the case, the behavior is usually long over by the time one can get food or a toy to the animal. A clicker or other marker can form a “bridge” between the… Continued

Learning by Observation

This is a really exciting time to be a canine professional. Dogs have come to the forefront in research, giving us new information about how they learn as well as their cognitive abilities. This new data allows trainers and behaviorists to influence canine learning and explain behavior using innovative and scientifically valid methods. A simple example is dogs learning through observation. When I began training dogs 15 years ago, we did not believe dogs learned by watching us or other dogs. I distinctly remember being scoffed at by my mentor… Continued

Hello, May I Have Your Attention?

We’ve all been there, sitting in the audience waiting for the guest speaker to come on stage. Or it could be at a wedding or even a classroom. The crowd is talking, laughing in a collective rumble, when suddenly someone notices that the speaker is on stage, waiting patiently for everyone to take notice. Sometimes you can hear the “shushhhhhhhh”, but within a matter of seconds the audience is in rapt attention….the silence is deafening. Compare that to the unfortunate speaker who tries to talk above the noise: “Excuse me,… Continued

Six Ways to Prepare Your Dog for Fireworks

Oh no. Noisy holiday rolling around again, and your dog is scared of fireworks? Even though it’s just a few days before the holiday, you can make a plan and take action to help your dog be a bit less afraid of the unpredictable scary sounds of fireworks, firecrackers, whistles, and even guns. Get Ready Here are some things you can do today. Get some great treats and start carrying them around. Whenever there is any kind of sudden or startling noise, including stray bangs and booms as people start to test… Continued

Misconceptions of Counterconditioning Leash Reactive Dogs

Misconception #1 – Feeding a dog when they are barking or fearful reinforces the fear. Absolutely not true. You can only cause more fear by implementing more fear or pain. Fear trumps food, so if the dog is taking the food, they are not that fearful. The food is not the focus of the on leash event; the impending, approaching or sudden stimulus is the focus. This is not like a food bowl that gets kicked repeatedly or a dog that is attacked by other dogs over food, and the… Continued

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