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Setting the Right Criteria


By K. Holden Svirsky  Guppy, a young male “pit bull” and German shepherd dog mix, didn’t know how to sit. Or, more accurately, he didn’t know how to sit on cue. To be considered adoptable by the suburban families that frequented the shelter, this was a pretty important behavior. Guppy was incredibly friendly and goofy and he loved people. So he jumped all over them. Admittedly, 70 lbs. of exuberance, tongue and pointy teeth a few inches from your face isn’t exactly what most folks write down under “I’m looking… Continued


Lockdown to Normality…What Does It Mean for Dogs?


I’ve spent a lot of time over these last few weeks writing about how to help dogs and their guardians during the somewhat challenging situation of social distancing and lockdown posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. For example, how do we cope with restricted exercise, the lack of social contact, changed routine etc.? There’s no doubt that it has been extremely difficult for some. From my own perspective, my dogs have coped very well, and within my dog training business, I have implemented measures such as ‘virtual’ contact for guardians. It… Continued


Feline Behavior Unmasked: Superfecundation


By Beth Adelman  Q: I recently adopted two young cats that the shelter told me are littermates. But one is a black shorthair and the other is orange and kind of fluffy, and they’re actually not much alike. If they were really siblings, wouldn’t they be more like each other? A: Cats from the same litter are not twins or triplets or quadruplets. In fact, while they all have the same mother, it’s possible none of them have the same father. That’s why you can see littermates with different coat… Continued


‘Laundry List’ Dogs


By Kristi Benson As dog trainers, we may frequently find ourselves sitting across the kitchen table from our clients in something of a conundrum. While we may have been called in to assist with house-training, or jumping up, or biting strangers, or any other typical concern, clients do not always stick to the script. For example, we may find out that the dog who is eliminating inside the house is also chewing the walls when left alone, or that the dog who is jumping up on guests cannot be enticed… Continued


PPG Joins Six Leading Organizations to Support UK Dog Behaviour and Training Charter


Milestone agreement sees seven professional bodies join forces to set professional standards and ensure consumer transparency, with animal welfare at the forefront TAMPA, Fla. – May 28, 2020 – PRLog — The Pet Professional Guild (PPG) has signed up to be one of seven founding organizations to support the UK Dog Behaviour and Training Charter set to be launched on June 8. The initiative aims to provide clarity regarding the future direction of dog behavior and training throughout the UK in relation to professional standards, tools and methodologies, with canine welfare at the heart of its… Continued


Feeding Time Frenzy!


By Robyn Lowe As a vet nurse, I see animals on a daily basis struggling with osteoarthritis. Some owners know about it and are well on the way to tackling it, some are innocently oblivious, and some in denial! Wherever on this scale you sit, having your dog diagnosed with osteoarthritis may have come as a bit of a blow, things are going to have to change for both you and your dog. A common worry is that your dog is going to suffer greatly from boredom – you’re getting… Continued


BARKS Podcast with dog*biz: May 21, 2020


       Niki Tudge catches up with Gina Phairas (left) and Veronica Boutelle (right) of PPG corporate partner dog*biz to talk about the FREE six-week group coaching program, Survive & Thrive, they launched in April 2020 to help R+ trainers navigate through the COVID-19 crisis. They talk about their experiences and also their key takeaways from coaching pet professionals and small business owners through these challenging times. The discussion ranges from the new landscaping of the pet industry to how Survive & Thrive is shaping some new ideas and… Continued


PPG Summit 2020 Sessions: Cooperation, Control, and Counterconditioning


BARKS presents session details from PPG’s 2020 Summit and Workshops in Phoenix, Arizona Session Details: Presenter: Leslie McDevitt Session Title:Cooperation, Control, and Counterconditioning Session Type: Lecture/Lab (1.5 Hours) The presenter will discuss two cooperative counterconditioning games from her new book Control Unleashed: Reactive to Relaxed. These groundbreaking games were created to empower dogs to direct their own counterconditioning procedures. Voluntary Sharing (VS) is for dogs who have difficulty sharing resources or taking turns. Requested Approach Training (RAT) is for dogs who are reactive to being approached, or approaching others (people,… Continued


Phoenix Blog Competition: Starting Straw for Dogs


By Metis Riley Even as a child, I always noticed dogs outdoors… especially during our long, dark Alaskan winters. Dogs living in yards, chained to an old car, trying to stay warm by burrowing under the deck. I was familiar with the buzz of a sled dog yard, maybe a hundred dogs bouncing and barking, but these dogs outdoors alone stuck out to me as extra sad. One night, one of our neighbor’s dogs didn’t survive a cold night outdoors. I remember my grandmother marching over and taking their other… Continued


Finding the Upside of a Pandemic


In what seems like the blink of an eye the COVID-19 pandemic changed the whole world, and has hit the dog service industry particularly hard. There certainly are a lot of things on the downside, but I am finding some very nice things on the upside too. They just require some searching and creativity. Like so many pet service providers, clients have cancelled my pet sitting appointments since they are sequestered at home and not traveling, and my in-home training and behavior services had to stop in order to prevent… Continued


The Power of Choice


…a basic environment has food delivered in a food bowl. An enriched environment offers food in lots of different ways including puzzles, dispensing toys and treasure hunts. A basic environment has a single litter tray in one corner of a room. An enriched environment has several litter trays, appropriate to the number of cats in the household, located in private spots throughout the house and cleaned regularly. Enrichment also covers things like play, human interaction, hiding places, vertical space and opportunities to explore natural cat behaviors – in a variety of… Continued


Aging Gracefully


It is important to bear in mind that our dogs may be experiencing physical ailments, just as we do in our aging process, and we need to ensure their lifestyle stays balanced between being too sedentary, to overdoing it because they are no longer as conditioned for high impact or long periods of physical activity. As such, I make sure I keep Lanie active with low impact activities like canine fitness, obedience training, or fun tricks. Of course, she also needs mental enrichment and so we keep learning new things.… Continued


Creating Positive Workspaces


It goes without saying that quiet and calm creates an environment which is more conducive to learning. Pick your time when the kids are least likely to be running wild and other family members need your attention. Cut off background noise from TVs, radios and other obvious external stimuli. For dogs who are particularly sound sensitive, think too about less obvious stimuli such as household appliances such as dishwashers, microwaves, cookers, home entertainment, washing machines etc. All of these devices may contribute to an inability to concentrate, especially if your… Continued


Troubleshooting the Hand-Delivered Retrieve


There are many different ways to train a dog to hold a retrieve item in their mouth. One approach involves shaping and differentially marking and rewarding for increasing duration. This approach requires very precise marking. Another strategy often used to build duration involves combining a chin rest with the “take” cue. Yet another approach involves tugging on the item immediately after the dog takes it. Most dogs will pull back in response to the tugging, and this gives the trainer an opportunity to mark and reward for a firmer and… Continued


Harassment in the Workplace


…so much more is needed in terms of education, reporting procedures and protection for individuals not shielded by corporate harassment policies. How, then, does one get help as an independent and small business owner when predatory behavior flies just below the legal radar or when an individual is not sure what constitutes harassment, sexual or otherwise?…As a businesswoman who has had multiple contacts with professionals, over many years, I have heard directly from multiple victims of harassment, social bullying and sexual harassment across a range of disciplines in many industries.… Continued


Phoenix Blog Competition: Where Hope Lives


By Heddie Leger Hope comes in many ways, shapes and forms. We are encouraged in life to never give up Hope. It was a rainy stormy day. A medium sized, white dog was spotted wandering the school yard going from door to door. Every once in while she could be seen sitting by a certain door. She did not appear frightened or scared and most folks thought she had just wandered from her home and was looking for a child in her family. After several hours passed, a kind woman… Continued


PPG Summit 2020 Sessions: Foundation Training Skills to Prepare Dogs for Future Learning After Adoption


BARKS presents session details from PPG’s 2020 Summit and Workshops in Phoenix, Arizona Session Details: Presenter: Emily Larlham Session Title: Foundation Training Skills to Prepare Dogs for Future Learning After Adoption Session Type: Arizona Humane Society Workshop (1.5 Hours) When working with a shelter dog, we always hope that the people adopting the dog will not only provide a safe loving home but also teach their dog skills to help him thrive and fit in with the family’s lifestyle. A skilled trainer can easily teach a dog new skills and… Continued


BARKS Podcast with Coleen Ellis of Coleen Rocks: May 8, 2020


Join Niki Tudge as she hosts Coleen Ellis from Coleen Rocks to talk about how to get your business “Future Ready.” Listen to Podcast here on a choice of platforms. Or simply click ‘Play’ below.   Ready to be inspired and energized? In this interactive dynamic discussion you will learn how to think about your marketing from a different perspective. We will discuss the importance of “Honoring Your Story” to understanding the “Experience Economy” and how to use these to get your business Future Ready. Ever wondered about the importance… Continued


Tell Us What You Really Think


By Susan Nilson and Angelica Steinker  Amongst dog trainers and enthusiasts, Dr. Gregory Berns is probably best known for his pioneering work that specializes in the use of brain imaging technologies to gain a greater understanding of canine motivation and decision-making. For the last three years, Berns’ team at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia have used positive reinforcement to train a group of volunteer dogs to remain still during functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI)*. As the dogs are awake during the entire fMRI process, Berns and his colleagues are provided… Continued


Teaching Recall: A New Standard


A favorite expression amongst pet trainers is that we should aim to have a “constructional approach” to changing behavior. This means we should be working to build the most appropriate behaviors rather than focusing on a punitive approach toward what humans consider to be annoying or frustrating behaviors their pets may, at times, exhibit. As such, rather than punishing a particular behavior, we must ask this simple question: What behavior would we prefer the pet to perform as an alternative in this situation? Once we have identified this, we can… Continued


Everything Was Fine Until…


I’m reminded of a young dog who had been housebroken, but suddenly began to refuse to go out in the backyard and would urinate in the home as soon as she had a chance to do so unobserved. The veterinary exam had shown nothing unusual, the diet had not been changed, work schedules the same, no new additions or losses to the household, etc. Watching the dog as the client and I talked, I noticed that every tiny sound outside the consultation room was registering with the dog. Her ears… Continued


Setting the Right Criteria


Why do trainers and dogs reach these impasses? When progress plateaus, trainers begin to consider more invasive measures. Dogs risk being sent to boot camps and being subjected to shock or prong collars because “treat training” didn’t work. The problem is rarely motivation, of course, or the effectiveness of positive reinforcement. The problem is the trainer’s inability to set appropriate criteria…The ability to set good criteria isn’t just for jumpy, mouthy dogs who find themselves in a shelter environment. It is even more important in cases of fear and aggression.… Continued


Learning to Love the Business Side of Your Business


Here’s the honest truth – it’s hard to run a successful business. Let’s face it, you got into this because you want to help people and their animals have a more fulfilling life together, right? You have the passion, dedication, commitment, and interest. But knowing what your vocation is, can be quite different to knowing how to turn it into a reliable and stable source of income…Price setting is a tricky part of running a business, not least because the whole issue of money and worth can be caught up… Continued


E-Fence Fallout


Labradoodle Charlee…started to respond fearfully when the telephone answering machine beeped. She became afraid to enter the room where it was located, even when there was no beeping sound. She traversed a roundabout route through the house just to avoid that room. Her fear further generalized to beeping sounds on television programs, but the most “heartbreaking” response was when the smoke detector battery died and the device emitted a constant screeching beep which terrified Charlee. Read article 


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