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COVID-19: 3 Tips for Dog Trainers on Adapting to the ‘New Normal’

By Susan Nilson Last month, the Pet Professional Guild (PPG) hosted a webinar with Anna York, BSc (Hon) PhD, Stephanie Perniciaro PhD MPH, Anne Wyllie PhD, Maikel Boot PhD, Chantal Vogels PhD MSc BSc, and Kayoko Shioda DVM MPH of the Yale School of Medicine in New Haven, Connecticut and Dr. Hannah Capon of Canine Arthritis Management in the U.K. to examine how, in this time of pandemic, dog trainers, animal behavior consultants and pet care professionals can engage in best practice to keep themselves and their clients safe as… Continued

Living with a Dog Who’s Going Deaf

Buddha, my black Labrador, has always had a sharp sense of hearing.  Teaching him to respond to word cues was easy, and I also taught him several hand cues.  Doing so probably saved his life on one occasion. About eight years ago a solar panel system was installed on our barn roof.  That required a crew of workers to have access in, out and on top of our barn for three days straight.  I put our horse and sheep in their paddock and let my three Labradors play in their… Continued

Phoenix Blog Competition: Working to Address Stress

By Jerri Colonna  I am a shelter volunteer on the behavior and enrichment team at Indianapolis Animal Care Services (IACS) and we have worked very hard as volunteers to develop some great enrichment for our dogs. We are a very large inner city, open intake shelter and many of our dogs only get to go outdoors once every 24 hours, so it can be a stressful environment for them – especially if they are there long-term. Because of this, we have an enrichment group that focuses on things we can… Continued

A Foot in the Door

By Tabitha Davies Shelter is defined as a place to rest, a place for comfort and a place for safety. But with 3.9 million dogs entering shelters and an average of 1.2 million of them being euthanized each year (Source: ASPCA), this is sadly not the case for many dogs in US shelters. Life in the shelters in Coachella, CA, where I am based, means a concrete floor with drains, full access to food, water, and, only if you are without behavior problems, a blanket, bed and toy. It also… Continued

Lessons from the COVID-19 Crisis

By Veronica Boutelle I have loved and served this industry for 20 years, but I have never been prouder to be part of it than I am in this moment. I’m writing this from my home office in late April while sheltered in place. You’re probably reading it sometime in July. I’ve no way of knowing, as I write now, what things will be looking like when you read my words. I feel fairly certain, though, that whatever the specific circumstances, we’ll still be dealing individually, as a nation, and… Continued

Harassment? Or Assault?

The majority of pet trainers, behavior consultants and pet industry service providers are self-employed or independent contractors and are most at risk from sexual harassment or sexual assault via nonwork-specific locations, such as public training areas, clients’ homes, conference locations or workshops…For those of us operating solo in the pet services industry, who may find ourselves, as individuals, at risk of being sexually harassed or assaulted, we must take into consideration some of these identified traits and behavioral settings. Our personal safety must take into consideration that most individuals who… Continued

Raising a Puppy

Think of your relationship with you puppy as a bank account. Every positive interaction is a deposit and every time you scowl or get cross or punish you make a withdrawal. As soon as your account goes overdrawn then things will most likely go from bad to worse but keep a nice healthy bank balance and you and you pup will soon end up as millionaires in the relationship stakes. (Issue 43, July 2020, pp.38-39). Read article 

Dog Guardian Etiquette

Let’s say you have a dog who loves to charge about but is also a complete softie (I do!). He’s in area where it’s safe and permitted to be off leash and you see a dog in the distance. You shout, “It’s okay, he’s friendly!” But you have absolutely no idea how the other dog will respond to your dog or how that dog’s guardian feels about the advance. Many, many times I have worked with clients with nervous dogs on the receiving end of advances such as this and… Continued

Pets and Road Safety

To demonstrate the necessity of safely securing pets while travelling, the Royal Automobile Club of Spain (RACE) carried out a series of crash-tests in which they simulated a frontal collision at 50 km/h, using a dog dummy weighing 22 kg (48.5 lbs) and a human driver dummy. RACE concluded that the safest way to transport a pet is in a pet carrier (crate). For small dogs and cats, the crate is best located on the floor of the car. For larger dogs, it is preferable to locate the crate in… Continued

Developing Food Manners

Food manners develop over time and are dependent on your clarity and consistency in the management and delivery of the food. In this video, I address every issue that people encounter with hand feeding horses that I’ve heard of so far. It takes considerable self-control to keep your body still while you click for behavior so it’s a good idea to practice this often. Click your clicker first and then move your hand to reach for the food in your pouch. Preloading your hand is also something to consider, as it… Continued

Technique vs. Emotional Involvement: Finding the Balance

Handlers have an obligation to be trustworthy for their dogs. A handler who is calm and affectionate at times but who becomes anxious or disconnected in some situations can lead a dog to distrust them. For handlers, trust also means trusting that the dog is doing his best, or that if he cannot do his best, he has good reason. This is very difficult for many handlers. In any given situation, the dog’s behavior tells you what his best guess is as to how to handle the situation. (Issue 43,… Continued

Respect, Routines and Redirection

Knowing when they will be fed, when the humans leave for work or school and return, when the humans go to bed and get up – all of these seemingly mundane things are important for cats, because a predictable environment makes them feel safe and in control…Like all animals, for cats, having a choice is empowering. Without their humans around 24/7, cats have more choice about how to spend their time and where to spend it. Now they may have humans in their favorite spaces, picking them up even though… Continued

Examining Anxiety Traits and Breed Specifics

Noise sensitivity was the most common anxiety trait with 32% of dogs being fearful of at least one noise, of which fear of fireworks was the most common subtrait with a prevalence of 26%: “The prevalence of noise sensitivity increased with age, especially fear of thunder.” (Salonen et al., 2020)…Over 50% of dogs who were fearful of one noise were fearful of several noises. Comorbidities are good for all dog professionals to be aware of, whether you are a veterinary behaviorist who is treating one specific condition, or a dog… Continued

Surviving the Storm

It was if the world had suddenly just stopped and everything was standing still. For me personally, not only did I take immediate action and close my physical training location, I also moved out of the premises completely. In tandem, I started delivering training services to my clients in a format I would never have previously imagined. Welcome to virtual training…Overall, I think we will see virtual training become a permanent fixture in the dog training industry. There are enormous benefits for reactive dogs, for dogs find group classes challenging,… Continued

Target Practice

By Lara Joseph Training animals to target makes husbandry a lot less stressful and much safer. It is also a useful tool to have at your disposal in an emergency situation. But first, let’s define some of the terms: Targeting is getting an animal (or human) to touch a predetermined body part to a particular object. Stationing is teaching the animal (or human) to continue targeting until cued to do otherwise. Targeting is such a common behavior that many people train it without realizing. When we attend an event and… Continued

Surviving the Storm

By Gail Radtke  Looking back to March-April time, it seems like the entire dog training business as we know it pretty much crashed overnight. As COVID-19 started to take hold, decisions had to be made fast – especially for those of us who run a business at a physical location that is under a lease who realized we were not going to earn any income at that venue for the foreseeable future. Of course, we had all heard about the coronavirus and what was happening overseas but had no idea… Continued

Everything Was Fine Until…

By Suzanne Clothier Does this sound familiar? “Everything was fine until… [fill in months, age, event].” It’s a statement that is common, and sometimes accepted without much thought. For example, a client might tell us that their puppy was a saint until he turned 7 months old. Or that there were no problems until Grandma Tilley came to stay for a week. Perhaps a new neighbor was bitten, or the owner was nearly pulled into the street when the dog spotted a squirrel. Whatever the precipitating event(s) that brought the… Continued

Is My Dog in Pain?

By Robyn Lowe Every single dog is unique and every arthritis story is different. Some dogs are stoic and will hide symptoms and others will show very early on that they are in pain. We know that dogs all experience pain differently, X-rays may look horrendous on one dog but clinically they are still fairly mobile whereas X-rays on another may show very mild changes but the dog clinically is extremely painful! Dogs do tend to tell us about chronic pain in a very different way to acute pain. Acute pain –… Continued

Muzzles Schmuzzles…Not “Just Another Piece of Kit!”

Saying the word “muzzle,” suggesting the use of and/or using one, or seeing a dog wearing one can have negative connotations for some. But why? Perhaps because we have become used to seeing guard dogs or so-called aggressive dogs wearing them. They are used by the military, armed forces and law enforcement. We see them in cartoons and we also see them in regions where Breed Specific Legislation decrees that certain breeds have to wear them (based purely on appearance), and in sports such as greyhound racing. These are just… Continued

Quick Cat Behavior Tip: Petting-Induced Aggression

By the Pet Professional Guild Cat Committee Petting-induced aggression is a commonly reported feline behavior issue whereby adoring owners often find themselves at a loss to understand why their beloved kitty is so accepting of their affection one moment, only to go completely on the offensive the next. Important reminders about the behavior: As both a predator and prey species, cats need to be highly sensitive to their environment to survive, which includes being sensitive to touch. Cats have touch receptors all over their bodies, some of which are continually… Continued

BARKS Podcast with Dr. Karolina Westlund of Illis Animal Behavior Consulting: June 12, 2020

Every Friday, PPG President Niki Tudge hosts a Facebook Live session for PPG members in the PPG Member group. In the Friday June 12, 2020 session, we talked punishment with Dr. Karolina Westlund of Illis Animal Behavior Consulting, as well as the ethics construct as a side model to science, the humane hierarchy and so much more.  Listen to Podcast here on a choice of platforms. Or simply click ‘Play’ below. Conversations with Dr. Westlund are always science based and animal welfare centered. Dr. Westlund represents her business Illis ABC where… Continued

Reinforce the Behavior You Prefer

Last night I was relaxing on the screened porch with my Labradors, Buddha and Gandhi. The porch faces the backyard and leads to a deck. It is a comfortable and quiet spot where we spend a lot of time and enjoy watching the wildlife. Living in the countryside means the variety of wildlife ranges from mice to deer and coyote, and everything in between. It started as a hot and muggy day, but by afternoon a cold front swept across the state with drenching rains and cooling temperatures. By the… Continued

It’s a Dog’s Life

By Cecelia Sumner Not surprisingly, I love living with dogs. I embrace their essential dogginess. Barking, jumping, digging, hunting, these are all normal canine behaviors. I recognize I need to provide an outlet for these behaviors to keep my dogs happy and stress-free. Many pet owners struggle with understanding their dogs’ behavioral needs. While dogs evolved alongside humans, in recent history, our environment and expectations of our dogs have changed. Increasingly we fit our dogs into small compartments in our lives, often rendering us unable to allow them an appropriate… Continued

BARKS Podcast with Dr. Kristina Spaulding of Smart Dog Training and Behavior: June 5, 2020

Every Friday, PPG President Niki Tudge hosts a Facebook Live session for PPG members. We were privileged on Friday June 5, 2020 to host Dr. Kristina Spaulding of Smart Dog Training and Behavior where we explored and discussed stress! We can all benefit from knowledge about stress and how this impacts our four-legged family members and it’s our goal at PPG to spread the word and help provide education to pet professionals and pet owners.  Listen to Podcast here on a choice of platforms. Or simply click ‘Play’ below. Dr.… Continued

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