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Opinion: Puppies Are Poor Christmas Gifts

It may be tempting for parents to get a puppy for their kids as a special Christmas gift. We have probably all seen TV programs and holiday movies where that scene played out joyfully on screen. And there was always a happy ending. But Christmas puppies do not always have happy endings. Modern families seem busier than ever. Often, both parents work full time, the kids are away at school during the day and are being transported to and from athletic and social activities on weeknights and weekends. That leaves… Continued

Personal Trainer or Dog Trainer? The Case for Day Training

By Veronica Boutelle of PPG corporate partner, dogbiz Frustration over unfinished cases and low client compliance—endemic issues in our industry—often lead us to view clients as lazy, uncommitted, unskilled, uncaring, cheap. As positive reinforcement trainers, we teach “Don’t blame, train.” But while we’re quick to apply this mantra to dogs, we’ve largely failed to do so with our human clients. The human client equivalent would be, “Don’t blame the client, train their dog.” Our primary service modality, of coaching clients to train their dogs, does not serve our human or canine… Continued

Living and Working with Deaf Dogs

By Morag Heirs Our canine companions are remarkably adaptable and, based on current thinking, this ability has allowed them to take advantage of the rubbish dumps created by primitive humans and shaped the transformation from wolf-like ancestor through to domesticated dog. I often feel that their talent at interpreting our sometimes hurried and chaotic verbal language is nothing short of miraculous! In some ways then, the deaf or partially-deafened dog has an advantage over the hearing dog. Born with restricted senses, these dogs not only are largely oblivious to our… Continued

Fetch More Dollars: Like Peas in a Pod

By John D. Visconti In a previous article (see Fetch More Dollars: Selling Is Helping, BARKS from the Guild, June 2014, p.59), I discussed the negative association many trainers have with the words ‘selling’ and ‘salesperson.’ Additionally, I pointed out that a professional salesperson is in the business of helping people, not exploiting them. Hopefully, because you embraced these concepts and now possess a different perspective on what it means to be a salesperson, you will never experience beads of sweat forming on your brow should someone ask, “Are you… Continued

“I Will Never Use the Shock Collar Again!”

By Eileen Anderson This is a story from a client of one of my professional trainer friends. Let’s call my friend “Phoebe.” My friend had met the client for some coaching for her young, exuberant dog, Raven. But it was a very long distance for the client to come. My friend received this email after she hadn’t heard from the client in a while. Some details were altered for privacy, but I’ve left the email essentially as the client wrote it because she tells the story so eloquently. I am… Continued

Perfect Dog? What You Put In Is What You Get Out

So many times people say to me – your dog must be perfectly behaved right? Well…yes, he responds very well to what I ask him to do in various situations, but it doesn’t ‘just happen.’ It’s not something that miraculously occurs – it takes work. Unfortunately, sometimes owners enter the world of ‘dogdom’ with the expectation that a ‘perfect family pet’ is generated within the realms of a six-week puppy starter course. During this initial period, puppies are entering a rapid stage of physical, mental and social growth and learning.… Continued

BARKS Podcast with Sally Williams: November 19, 2019

Guest:  Sally Williams, cat behavior consultant, owner of The Contented Cat, founding director of The Brodie Fund, founder of The Feline Fine Project and ‘mom’ to Marlinthebuddhacat Topic:  Pet cancer and its impact on family members. The diagnosis of cancer in a pet can not only be financially challenging, but causes anxiety, depression and can lead to feelings of isolation. The Brodie Fund can provide financial support and also offers counseling and a safe space so that those coping with the cancer of their pets know they are not alone.… Continued

The Elephant on the Stairs

By Bob McMillan Positive training is not a new idea. With starts and stops over the last century, it has been used by empathetic individuals to bring out the best in their animal companions. A recent book, Elephant Company by Vicki Constantine Croke, reveals a surprising chapter in the evolution of positive training. It is a rousing tale of an Englishman whose love of the jungle giants persuaded him to open an “elephant school” in colonial Burma that saved hundreds of lives in World War Two. It is the story… Continued

They Call Him Rocket Man

Dog trainers enjoy the privileged opportunity of influencing the life and welfare of other people’s pets. With that comes great responsibility to only use methods and equipment which are modern and effective, while promoting a positive relationship as the dog becomes a full member of the family. In short, we must do everything which is in the best interest of the welfare of the pet and their family. On February 7th of 2016 I began a journey with a Welsh Terrier named Rocket, but everyone calls him Rocket Man. Rocket… Continued

The Miracle Mutt

By Gail Radtke Changing your career in your 40s is nerve-wracking at the best of times but I was lucky enough to have a very special friend to inspire and guide me towards following my passion. That special someone was Lanie, a Shar-Pei-Chow-Malamute-shepherd-mix girl who completely changed my life. Up until 2007 I had had a rewarding career at British Columbia Provincial Corrections in the Greater Vancouver area as a Correctional Supervisor and Instructor but then a car accident left me with injuries that would change my ability to carry… Continued

The Power of the Clicker

By Donna Savoie Dickens’ family purchased him from a breeder when he was five months old. The breeder did not allow the family to see the entire litter nor the dam and sire before they took him, but brought him up a flight of stairs and simply told the family, “I pick this pup for you.” The family was slightly upset by the interaction and the inability to view the entire litter or meet the dam and sire, but Dickens ran right over to them and snuggled and won them… Continued

When Food Toys “Fail”

By Eileen Anderson How many of us have heard about food-toy failures from our friends and clients? “I tried the Kong with my puppy, but she didn’t like it,” or, “My dog is not smart enough for those puzzle toys!” There is an ever-increasing variety of food toys for dogs and other animals on the market. There are toys of differing complexity. There are toys that demand problem solving and toys that necessitate complex motor skills. Dog owners are fortunate to have more and more choices to enrich their dogs’… Continued

On the Danger of Dog Collars

By Karolina Westlund Ph.D. of PPG corporate partner Illis Animal Behaviour Consulting There’s a debate raging in Sweden about whether choke collars are potentially dangerous to dogs. Pros and cons of choke collars? Photo: Elf, Wikipedia Several influential dog coaches on TV use and recommend them, other experienced dog professionals argue against them. It’s currently causing all kinds of shock waves to ripple across social media, which inspired me for a blog post. I’m not a dog owner – I’ve never owned a dog. I’m guessing that in some people’s eyes, this… Continued

All Hallows and…..All Positive

By Anna Bradley October 31 (and the following week up until November 5 here in the United Kingdom) might be exciting, colourful and full of fun and entertainment, particularly for youngsters, but for pets and pet parents it can be a stressful time. The issue has been compounded in recent years, no thanks to the easy availability of fireworks and sparklers, in the UK at least, which has meant that the former are frequently released both before and after this particular period and at erratic and unpredictable times of the… Continued

Trigger Warning!

We’re all familiar with the term “threshold,” the magical line where, when kept under it, our dogs can focus and learn. During behavior consultations, the concept of a threshold and how to stay under it are, in my opinion, a trainer’s best friend. But how do we know that our dogs are actually under threshold? Certainly, we’ve all been in situations where progress, at times, looks like one step forward and two steps back. In this article, we will look at what one particular dog’s threshold looked like and how… Continued

Training Horses with Positive Reinforcement: Taking Cues from the Dog World

…horses in the wild do not have a strict dominance hierarchy, and your horse is not trying to dominate you if he does something you don’t want him to. Horses do not like physical pain any more than we do. This is not a good way to teach and horses, like any animal, are less likely to do something again if the result is pain. Ask yourself why that is. Is it because they have learned a new behavior or is it simply because they are scared of being hurt?… Continued

Helping Fearful Cats

Cats are solitary hunters and prefer to avoid threats rather than face them. They use hiding as a coping strategy to help them avoid unwanted interactions or difficult situations. Providing a safe place is one of the five pillars of a healthy feline environment, according to the American Association of Feline Practitioners and the International Society of Feline Medicine (Ellis et al., 2013). From the cat’s perspective, a safe place is somewhere secluded that they can withdraw to if they feel stressed or threatened. Since cats like to be high… Continued

Encounter with a Poisonous Toad: How Positive Cues and Scent Games Saved the Day

In the early morning hours of a wet April in 2015, I found myself rushing my gorgeous Staffordshire bull terrier Jambo to the emergency vet. As a result of what happened on that stormy night, I shared our experience and the information that my veterinarian subsequently shared with me in a BARKS blog titled How Force-Free Training Helped Save My Dog’s Life! Here is a quick recap of what occurred: After a particularly bad thunderstorm had finally dissipated, I decided to take my two dogs out for a bathroom break… Continued

A Miniature Puppet Master

By Bob McMillan I’d heard about dogs like Bentley—manipulative, ready to take over the house and quite likely the entire block, a mastermind who bends all other dogs to his will. Bentley was my first chance to observe a Svengali of the dog world in his native habitat, which in this case was in my lap in my own home, looking up at me with huge, sincere, moist brown eyes. The little guy really had me, until a better lap came along and I watched him work his mojo on… Continued

The Pet Professional Guild Position Statement on Cat Declawing

Introduction The Pet Professional Guild (PPG) believes that all cats have an intrinsic right to be treated humanely, to have each of their individual needs met, and to live in safe, enriched environments free from pain, force, and fear. Scratching is a natural feline behavior. Declawing cats for owner convenience or in an attempt to protect property, people, and other pets is both inhumane and unnecessary given that there are highly effective alternatives available to manage the behavior more appropriately and less intrusively. Studies have also shown that declawing a… Continued

Position Statement on PPG’s Pet Industry Education Mandate

The Pet Professional Guild (PPG) and its membership hold themselves accountable to a high standard of ethics, protocols and transparency. Since its inception in 2012, PPG has been unwavering and unequivocal about where it stands on equipment philosophy and training methods for pets. As such, its members are committed to the use, promotion and education of humane, scientific and effective training, care and management protocols, as espoused in PPG’s Guiding Principles (2012). While PPG has taken an exclusively force-free approach and a promise to “do no harm,” it also recognizes… Continued

PPG Summit 2020 Sessions: Bunny Cooperative Care

BARKS presents session details from PPG’s 2020 Summit and Multi-Species Workshop Events in Phoenix, Arizona Session Details: Presenter: Emily Cassell Session Title: HusBUNdry Basics: Language, Observation and Behavior in Bunny Cooperative Care Session Type: Arizona Humane Society Workshop (1.5 Hours) HusBUNdry Basics workshops will build on themselves throughout the week at Best Friends. All learners will be exposed to the basics in body language, observation skills, and common behavior objectives in rabbit cooperative care. As prey animals, rabbits often have different behavioral tendencies than dogs and cats, so learning to build… Continued

PPG Summit 2020 Sessions: Building Stronger Teams for the Shelter

BARKS presents session details from PPG’s 2020 Summit and Multi-Species Workshop Events in Phoenix, Arizona Session Details: Presenter: Sherry Woodard Session Title: Building Stronger Teams for the Shelter, Community, Rescue, Adoptions, Daily Care and Enrichment Session Type: Lecture (1.5 Hours) In the shelter environment, strong teams are important to expand every aspect of your work with animals and the community. A limited number of staff can only do so much. You can increase your effectiveness by creating teams composed of staff members, community partners and volunteers, so much more can… Continued

Pushing and Pulling are for Luggage, Not for Dogs

One of my recent puppy clients was a precocious fellow named Colt. He was hardly bigger than the family cat, and it was the first puppy the family ever had. From day one we covered all the basics of raising a puppy, with an emphasis on keeping things safe and fun, and applying the training skills in everyday life. Each time I work with a “first time puppy” family I am reminded of the enormous amount of work which is required of them, and how easily they forget what I… Continued

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