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Very Clear on the Concept

Jana started learning concepts and putting things into categories way back when she was a puppy, before Chaser was even born. Chaser is the most famous “categorizing” dog; she has learned the names of well over 1,000 items and can group them into the right categories: toys, balls, Frisbees, etc. In addition, she has demonstrated an understanding of grammar, correctly taking one item to another, for example. She also can watch, remember, and imitate complex strings of behaviors. Chaser’s story is told in Chaser: Unlocking the Genius of the Dog Who… Continued

How Force-Free Training Helped Save My Dog’s Life!

Written by Louise Stapleton-Frappell Yesterday I shared a post on Facebook about Pamela Johnson’s “Rattlesnake Avoidance Training Using Force-Free Methods,” a Pet Professional Guild webinar. (You can register and watch the webinar here). Last night we had a thunderstorm and my Staffy bull terrier, Jambo, was frightened so I stayed up with him. The storm finally passed and at 2am I took him and Tessa, our German shepherd, outside for a bathroom break. There was a toad at the bottom of the steps but unfortunately, I didn’t see it until Jambo made contact. As a… Continued

PPG World Service Radio Show Launches with Trial Podcast

PPG World Service is the official international e-Radio web-casting arm of The Pet Professional Guild. The mission of PPG World Service is “Global News & Views on Force-Free Pet Care” and will serve as an advocacy forum for force-free dog training and pet care issues. The PPG World Service broadcast will initially be aired once per month with the goal of increasing this frequency as the audience builds. Together we are hoping to create a fun, educational and informative show. So come along and join us, bring your questions, expertise… Continued

Positive Reinforcement Training Tips

They don’t call them “man’s best friend” for nothing!  Domestic dogs have for thousands of years lived with humans in various capacities, from aiding in hunting to protecting livestock. In order to perform these functions, dogs learned to communicate with people and perform as their owners wished. Dogs are highly sensitive and responsive animals. They can tell when their owners are happy, sad, or nervous, and they may express these emotions themselves. Because dogs do have feelings, and intelligence that may be compared to that of a toddler (some breeds… Continued

Sheepherding, from the Lamb’s Perspective (Part One)

Sheep herding is a wonderful way for a handler and a dog to work together as a team in a time-honored tradition going back hundreds of years.  Herding is the process of moving livestock by using a dog, such as a border collie.  It requires close coordination between the handler and dog, moving the sheep in an orderly and predictable manner to the desired location. I once read “sheep herding is a dialogue of instinct occurring between dog and sheep” but I suspect that was written by someone who was… Continued

“Be NICE!”

If I’m a dog, and I’m on a leash, and another dog invades my space, I’m gonna growl. That’s just how I feel. Back the heck off, pal! I can’t get away from you, on account of I’m on a leash! That means you need to get away from me. Please and thank you. Plain and simple. So how come my person chides me and snaps, “Be NICE!” What?! I am nice. I just don’t want this guy all up in my business. How about my person could be nice and get… Continued

Taming the Beast

Written by Diane Garrod BSc, this article was originally published in BARKS from the Guild, June 2014. Managing an aggressive dog is a permanent commitment but it is most definitely possible. Owning an aggressive dog creates immediate liability. It is critical to use prevention and management whether your dog is at home, in the car or out on a walk. Managing an aggressive dog should be taken very seriously. It means making a clear commitment which involves never putting him in a situation where he will aggress again. This sounds… Continued

Pet Professional Guild Launches First International Chapter, PPG Australia

Tampa, FL – The Pet Professional Guild has announced the establishment of its first overseas chapter in Australia where, on April 4, 2015, members of the Delta Professional Dog Trainers Association (DPDTA) voted overwhelmingly to become PPG Aust  WESLEY CHAPEL, Fla. — In its previous format, DPDTA was an Australian body of force-free trainers, all of whom have studied with the Delta Society Australia Ltd and achieved a Certificate IV in Behavioral Training or Companion Animal Services, a nationally recognized qualification throughout Australia. Membership was strictly limited only to those… Continued

The Pet Professional Guild and Victoria Stilwell Partner to Promote Joint Goals of Promoting Force-Free Positive Dog Training Methods

March 2015. Tampa, FL – The Pet Professional Guild (PPG) is delighted to announce that Victoria Stilwell is Joining the Pet Professional Guild Special Council in support of PPG and its Guiding Principles. The Pet Professional Guild Special Council is a collection of leading industry experts who not only endorse and support PPG but also have respected knowledge to contribute to the education and engagement of force-free pet care and training methods. “This collaboration with Victoria is a really good fit for PPG,” said Niki Tudge, PPG’s founder and president.… Continued

Socializing a Formerly Feral Dog

When I started this blog, I assumed that I would write a lot about Clara’s training. Clara burst into my life as a 10 week old feral puppy [see note at end about feral dogs], and her socialization window was in the process of closing by the time she came to me. I slipped in that window before it shut and was fully accepted and trusted. But she growled at all other humans, even at that young age. In general, she related to them as a wild animal would, with huge wariness of… Continued

Nothing Changes if Nothing Changes

This article was written by Barb Levenson BS and first published in BARKS from the Guild (2014, April) pp. 26-27. Are you shouting cues or asking your dog for behaviors with a soft tone of voice? In a beginner rally class one night, I had an opportunity to show the difference between using a soft tone of voice to some of my students. One of the dogs, an adolescent lab, was somewhat anxious during class. I noticed that the owner, who was a very receptive student, was ‘barking’ cues to… Continued

The Far Side Of Behavior Solutions

One of my favorite Gary Larson, Far Side cartoons, is a drawing of a girl reading a book about equine medicine with the caption, “Doreen breezes through her first semester of veterinary school.” The page shows a long list of possible horse ailments and only one antidote…shoot him! Unfortunately this is how a lot of people deal with their dog’s behavioral issues. And while symbolically shooting the dog may seem like the right thing to do, after all the dog is “behaving badly” and therefore needs to be taught a lesson;… Continued

Are We Meeting Our Pets’ Needs?

I think it’s part of our American culture to love the idea of having a pet. Whether it’s a dog or cat or a pocket pet, many of us enjoy our lives more when we share it with a companion animal. There is another side to the equation. And that is how is our companion is enjoying their life with us. Animals have needs. The essentials are shelter, food and water. But even more so, particularly in the case of dogs, our companions need time and attention and some freedom … Continued

Are We Dogs’ Best Friends?

My blog is called The Thinking Dog, so it doesn’t take a canine Einstein to figure out that I take dogs’ thinking ability seriously. But what does it mean to talk about thinking dogs? How do dogs think? What do they think about? While human thinking tends to occur primarily in words, and maybe images, what about dogs? While most dogs learn to understand many words, it’s unlikely that they think in words. Their thinking and memories are more likely to be tied to scent, which is their dominant sense,… Continued

Carrot or Stick? Is Compromise Ever Acceptable?

What if a client is so entrenched in his (or her) old-fashioned so-called “dominance” views that banging on about force-free positive methods in the first consultation is likely to alienate him altogether? What if as an individual he just can’t help being a controller and his own sense of security depends upon very tight rules and routines? People of a controlling nature may naturally be attracted to the forceful, dominance-based methods. The man I went to visit recently readily accepts his foibles and describes himself as having OCD. His wife,… Continued

Korean Meat Farm Dogs Arrive without Much Baggage

In January the Humane Society International brokered a deal with a farmer in South Korea who had been raising dogs for food. In exchange for funds to convert his operation to blueberry cultivation, he surrendered his twenty three dogs into their custody. Next thing they knew, the dogs were departing Seoul on a trans-Pacific flight to Washington, D.C., where they were divvied up among six area animal shelters, including the one where I volunteer. [youtube] I confess, my reaction to this news was mixed. I’m a sucker for a… Continued

Are ‘Free-Shaped’ Dogs Better Problem Solvers?

A look at the criticisms of lure-reward training by Carmen LeBlanc MS ACAAB CPDT. First published in BARKS from the Guild, April 2014, pp. 12-18 Most professional dog trainers have heard about criticisms of lure-reward training in recent years. These criticisms have been made along with enthusiastic claims about the superiority of free-shaped (unprompted, trial-and-error) clicker training. Those of us who use free-shaping understand the enthusiasm. It is challenging and exciting to communicate with dogs in such a free-form way, developing a new behavior one small increment at a time.… Continued

When Choosing a Dog Trainer, Buyer Beware!

Written by Leah Roberts Originally posted in 8/27 2010 Before 1981 when Dr. Ian Dunbar developed the first Sirius Puppy Class, training wasn’t recommended for puppies under 6 months old.  The only training methods available at the time involved physical force using training tools such as choke collars, and were considered to be too harsh for young puppies.  Dr. Dunbar created the lure/reward method, which opened up an entirely new perspective on dog training in general.   With this method, instead of being corrected for wrong behavior, puppies are set up for success by… Continued

What Dog Training Really Taught Me

Image credit: Yvette Van Veen of Awesome Dogs. Please see full credit and sharing info at the bottom of the post. One of Many Examples This reinforcement/punishment combo is very common and easy to fall into, because of ignorance about how learning works, but also because of the unwillingness of humans to change their own behavior even when they might know better. It becomes the norm in many dogs’ lives. Here is but one example. It is a standard recommendation in traditional obedience training that when your dog pulls out of… Continued

Don’t Stop That Behavior, Quit It!

In my “previous life” when I was a fitness and wellness trainer, I would coach my clients to making healthy choices. I learned back then about motivation, about what it takes to set a goal, but more importantly, I learned which goals are the kinds that will stick for the long haul and which are doomed from the start. It helped me empathize with my clients, as I used to be a smoker. Sure I had stopped many times by following a plan and then when I felt particularly stressed… Continued

It’s All About Relationships.

I became a dog trainer to facilitate the relationship between dogs and humans. My goal was to create a relationship based on trust and understanding. By opening the lines of communication, I felt like I could achieve my goal of keeping more dogs in their homes and educate people about force-free training. Now, fifteen years later, I realize I was partially correct. Dog Training is about creating relationships, but not just between dogs and their people. It’s about friendships between people with the love and enjoyment of their canine companions… Continued

May Your Bowl Always Be More Than Half-Full

Can dogs be optimists? Pessimists? Many people see dogs as natural optimists. After all, dogs are very loving and amazingly forgiving of human foibles (and worse — just look at all the mistreated dogs who still love humans). Many dogs greet every stranger as a new best friend. And some dogs are sure that a car ride means fun for dogs! Cali is one of those naturally sunny, cheerful, affectionate optimists, as I wrote recently on my Thinking Dog Blog. Her mission in life is to greet every single human on… Continued

The Curious Case of the Haunted Room

Sometimes, however many questions we ask, it’s impossible to get to the bottom of just why a dog has developed a “weird” behaviour. We can see the current antecedents, but what caused it to kick in originally? In one of my recent behaviour consults I arrived to see a dog totally spooked by one room – the kitchen. All doors from outside and from the other rooms in the house led into this kitchen, so the only way to avoid the room would for greyhound Jo to stay outside. One… Continued

Cooperative Towel Drying Your Dog – Part 2

We introduced you to Cali the Jack Russell Terrier, one of our great clients, in a previous post. Cali is a true testament to the power of positive training and the resilient nature of dogs. Cali, did not like to be touched. She would bite people, when they tried to touch her. She also did not like to be restrained, she would try and bite people. So, being towel dried was the worst of both “evils” to Cali. We have worked in a variety of ways to be able to dry… Continued

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