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A Stronger Partnership


To celebrate the recent launch of PPG’s Horses with Voices initiative, this article discusses how we can give our horses a voice, as well as build confidence and resilience, through motivation. We sometimes ask a lot of our horses when it comes training. We use training for many different purposes, including specific activities, daily routines, and just spending time together. If we practice an activity, whether we have the aim of competing or not, we train our horses to repeat exercises over and over again. Often, we expect them to… Continued


Cat Sitter or Cattery?


This article provides a guide for feline behavior professionals to help their clients decide on the best care option for their cats when they’re away from home. Pet owners often worry about leaving their animals in care while they take a well-earned break. As a cat behavior consultant, I am often asked for advice on what’s best for a client’s cat and, as many of these cats are known to me because they have had a current or previous behavior issue that we’ve been managing, the decision is not always… Continued


The Cornerstones of PPG: Engaging, Educating, and Empowering


An interview with PPG founder and president Niki Tudge about why she started a member organization for force-free training pet professionals, what members and pet owners can expect from PPG, and what sets PPG apart.   PPG founder and president of PPG Niki Tudge started formulating the idea of establishing an organization for force-free pet training professionals in November 2011, after she had witnessed a trainer in a pet supplies store hanging a screaming dog in the air with a choke chain while shouting “No!” Upon complaining to the store’s… Continued


Ask the Experts: A Little Bit of Magic


PPG corporate partner dogbiz talks dog trainer cancellation policies and how to make them stick. Q: Dear dogbiz, I need to learn how to stand up for myself when clients try to break my policies. I find it really hard to enforce them in the moment. I’m tired of being a pushover, but I hate conflict and just never know what to say. Any magical tips? S.F. in Anaheim  A: Well, S.F., I don’t know about magical, but I do have some tips. Before I share them, I want to say how… Continued


The Right Choice


This article discusses learning environments for puppies, explaining why classes may not be the best option for all puppies and why one-to-one training can be far more beneficial – depending on the dog. In this article I’m going to talk about learning environments. I’ll start by asking some of the basic questions I would advise puppy owners to consider. For example, are your learning choices the right ones for your dog? Should you automatically assume a class is the best fit for your pup? Are you being led into believing… Continued


Please Don’t Touch


In this article the author shares a tale of nature versus nurture based on her experiences with Zia, whose reluctance to be touched led her to seek a behavioral consult to help snap her out of the training impasse she suddenly found herself in. You know how some clients start their story about the current dog they’re having problems with by describing their previous dog’s behavior? How the last one “was perfect, but this one……” Okay, so bear with me, because I’m going to be “that client.” In describing my… Continued


Canine Communication and Social Behavior


This article highlights the importance of dog training and behavior professionals being fluent in reading canine communications so they can understand a dog’s emotional state at any given moment in any given context, as well as be able to educate owners when a dog is experiencing a negative emotional state, such as fear, stress, or anxiety. Dogs often feel stressed or anxious in certain situations and will give signs to indicate their discomfort. In such cases, there is a need for awareness and, if appropriate, intervention to prevent pushing a… Continued


From the Editor


Welcome to our new-look BARKS from the Guild! We’ve taken BARKS completely digital to provide you, the reader, a more seamless and user-friendly experience. No more navigating or downloading PDFs (although we will still be providing some special educational PDFs for PPG members) – just lots of easily accessible and shareable content that we will be updating regularly. The format may be different but we still have the same top-level educational and informative content thanks to our loyal band of regular contributors who, as always, are delivering in spades. Get… Continued


Stuck in the Mud


By Lara Joseph Mini, pocket and teacup are all adjectives used to describe pigs and are specifically designed to impart a certain image to any potential pet pig owner. What might one think of when one hears the word “mini?” ‘Something weighing under five pounds’ might come to mind, or ‘something that fits into a purse.’ While both considerations might be correct, when referencing a pig, they will only be accurate for about two months. What happens then, when the pig gets bigger than five pounds? Along with these misleading… Continued


Happy Holidays…for Dogs too!


It can be so easy in all the madness and mayhem to overlook our dogs’ needs over the holiday period. Certainly, I always have an influx of inquiries at the beginning of a new year because a dog’s behavior has regressed in some way. Of course, we can’t expect ourselves to be ‘on it’ 100% of the time, every single second of the day – especially over periods like the holiday season. That’s only natural. But at the same time, there are things that we can do, small and easy… Continued


BARKS Podcast with the PPG Advocacy Panel: Discussion #5 – Meeting People Where They Are to Facilitate Change


Meeting People Where They Are to Facilitate Change Join the Pet Professional Guild (PPG) Advocacy Panel for a discussion on Meeting People Where They Are to Facilitate Change. Pet guardians and pet professionals, listen as panel members share their expertise in a fun, free-flowing format. Your Moderator: PPG Advocacy Committee Chair Don Hanson Your Advocacy Panel for this discussion includes: PPG president Niki Tudge, K. Holden Svirsky – PPG Shelter & Rescue Committee, Aaron Jones – PPG Inclusivity Committee, Beth Adelman – PPG Feline Committee, Dr. Zazie Todd, Dr. Eduardo Fernandez,… Continued


PPG Advocacy Panel: Making Education More Accessible


By Susan Nilson The Pet Professional Guild (PPG) Advocacy Panel was launched in August and has already held its first three sessions, where the panel discussed How To Best Advocate for Positive Reinforcement Methods, How to Reach and Work with Your Local Veterinarians, Your PPG Advocacy Panel at Work! Advocating to Let Dogs be Dogs, Cats be Cats, Equids Be Equids, and “Being Nicer” While Advocating (links to all podcasts and videos below). Panel members to date include Beth Adelman, Kristi Benson, Dr. Laura Donaldson, Dr. Eduardo Fernandez, Dr. Robert… Continued


BARKS Podcast with Molly Kelsey of The Cat Counsellor: December 10, 2021


Join Niki Tudge as she chats with Molly Kelsey of The Cat Counsellor about feline enrichment and socialization…and much more!  Listen to the Podcast here on a choice of platforms. Or simply click ‘Play’ below. About Molly Kelsey CVn ISFM AdvCertFB Since a young age, Molly has loved, and enjoyed being around animals. After finishing high-school she studied Veterinary Nursing and worked as a vet nurse for four years in a companion-animal clinic before moving into an administration role. Inspired by the ‘quirks’ of her rescue cat Frodo, Molly went on to… Continued


The Bigger Picture


By Morag Heirs Within my day to day life as a canine professional, I am regularly asked for advice on cases where standard training approaches seem to be failing. In some of these cases, deafness or visual impairment is also part of the picture. The case* I will talk about here illustrates a situation where deafness is just a single component in the jigsaw puzzle of any dog’s behavior, rather than the main explanatory variable. * Note: All names and any identifying details have been altered. Case Study: Shep the… Continued


BARKS Podcast with Veronica Sanchez of Cooperative Paws Service Dog Education: December 3, 2021


Join Niki Tudge as she chats with Veronica Sanchez of Cooperative Paws Service Dog Education about service dog certification.   Listen to Podcast here on a choice of platforms. Or simply click ‘Play’ below. Veronica Sanchez M.Ed CABC CPDT-KA is the founder of the Cooperative Paws Service Dog Coach™, an educational certification program for professional trainers. She teaches dog trainers how to train service dogs and how to incorporate service dog training into their pet dog training businesses. She also offers a variety of online courses on different aspects of service dog… Continued


Thinking Outside the Shelter


By Melissa Taylor  Like many shelters, my shelter, Friends For Life Animal Shelter in Houston, Texas, relies heavily on volunteers to meet the needs of program animals. In 2019, our volunteers donated 21,046 hours – enough to replace 10 full-time employees. Every day, these generous individuals spend shifts walking dogs, playing with cats, and cleaning kennels, but they also devote much of their time to behavior-related duties. Behavioral services for companion animals can be so resource intensive that shelter administrators may consider in-house behavior programs to be a luxury rather… Continued


BARKS Podcast with the PPG Advocacy Panel: Discussion #4 – “Being Nicer” While Advocating


“Being Nicer” While Advocating Join the Pet Professional Guild (PPG) Advocacy Panel for a discussion on “Being Nicer” While Advocating. Pet guardians and pet professionals, listen as panel members share their expertise in a fun, free-flowing format. Your Moderator: PPG Advocacy Committee Chair Don Hanson Your Advocacy Panel includes: Dr. Eduardo Fernandez, Aaron Jones, Judy Luther, Kim Silver, Dr. Kristina Spaulding, Beth Adelman, Monique Williams, Kristi Benson, and Laurie Williams. Listen to the Podcast here on a choice of platforms. Or simply click ‘Play’ below. Watch the discussion on Facebook Live. Recorded… Continued


Welcoming a New Puppy – Ensuring a Happy and Successful Future Together


Welcoming a new pup into your household should be a time of absolute pure joy – he or she is a new family member after all, but sometimes it just turns into something akin to pure chaos, which is a shame. In many cases, the reason for this is simply not enough planning, a rash decision, or the heart ruling head. A new puppy is a living, breathing absolute commitment for, let’s say at least 12 years and, hopefully, a lot longer. So many times, I wish I could un-pick… Continued


Dog Parks: The Good, the Bad, and the Reality


By Rachel Brix The Experimental Dog Park at Ohlone Park in Berkley, California, which is generally acknowledged as the first leash-free American dog park, was created in 1979. Since then dogs parks have grown exponentially in popularity. According to the most recent report issued by the Trust for Public Land (TPL) (2019), dog parks “are among the fastest growing park amenities in the combined parks systems of the 100 largest US cities. There are currently 810 dedicated dog parks in the 100 largest cities, an increase of 37 over last… Continued


Why Counterconditioning “Doesn’t Work”


By Angelica Steinker A common criticism of counterconditioning is that it does not work. While there can be many reasons why a behavior modification protocol based on counterconditioning fails, it is, in fact, almost always user error. Here are four common reasons that cause counterconditioning to fail: Lack of a Global Safe Zone Counterconditioning is only successful when the dog who is supposed to be counterconditioned feels safe. There are two basic ways to know a dog feels safe: 1. The dog is playful 2. The dog is relaxed It… Continued


Examining Bird vs. Human Expectations


By Sheila S. Blanchette Anthropomorphism is quite a mouthful of a word, defined by Lexico (2021) as “the attribution of human characteristics or behavior to a god, animal, or object.” Anthropomorphism is commonly seen in our day-to-day lives through social media, television, cartoons, movies, and also, maybe, when we are talking to our own animals. In the United States, one such example is Smokey Bear, “a campaign and advertising icon of the U.S. Forest Service.” (Wikipedia, 2021). Smokey is an upright black bear dressed in human clothing, including a hat,… Continued


Thinking Outside the Shelter


Behavioral services for companion animals can be so resource intensive that shelter administrators may consider in-house behavior programs to be a luxury rather than a necessity. When shelter leadership does take a chance on starting up a behavior department, minimal funding is often allocated. Our shelter was no exception: Friends For Life’s (FFL) behavior program started out as a department of one. Unsurprisingly, FFL had more behavior cases than one person could handle. The ability of the department to function effectively came to depend on the support of skilled volunteers.… Continued


Dog Parks: The Good, the Bad, and the Reality


According to the most recent report issued by the Trust for Public Land (TPL) (2019), dog parks “are among the fastest growing park amenities in the combined parks systems of the 100 largest US cities. There are currently 810 dedicated dog parks in the 100 largest cities, an increase of 37 over last year [2018].” TPL (2019) also reports a 74% increase in dog parks in from 2009 to 2019. While the numbers are steadily increasing in larger cities, many suburban and rural areas are still in need of safe… Continued


How Cats Are Made: Nature, Nurture, and the Now


It is not uncommon for adopters to base their decision primarily on the cat’s outward appearance and be less interested, or not interested at all, in the cat’s socialization history, life experiences, and behavior. In Karsh’s study on placing adult cats, she found that “appearance of the cat, particularly the cat’s color, was usually the most important factor” to the person acquiring a cat (Karsh & Turner, 1988). The lack of interest in the behavioral history of cats could also be the result of the assumption (and the expectation) that… Continued


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