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BARKS Podcast with Dr. Nathan Hall: February 7, 2019.


Guest: Dr. Nathan Hall,  assistant professor of companion animal science at Texas Tech University in Lubbock, Texas, and the director of the canine olfaction research and education laboratory in the department of animal science. Topic:  Understanding Gene-Behavior Relationships in Domestic Dogs. Dr. Hall’s PPG Annual Summit, presentation. Canine Aggression & Bite Prevention Education Seminar, April 2019 Portland, OR. Listen to the Recorded Podcast here  


Tips for Working with Clients with Mobility Impairments


By Veronica Sanchez A large and rambunctious dog can pull an owner off their feet, even if they do not have any physical limitations. However, people who have mobility impairments are at a higher risk. Additionally, the consequences of an injury may be more serious. Fortunately, there are a variety of strategies that can help clients with mobility limitations be successful in training their dogs to walk on a loose leash. Many people may experience a mobility limitation, including people with disabilities, people with temporary health injuries as well as… Continued


Portland Blog Competition: May I Speak to the Manager?


By Tina Ferner Last week, I received a voicemail that a trainer NEVER wants to hear. It went like this, “Tina, this is Eileen. Dolly just killed Miley.” Dolly was a rescued mixed breed dog that weighed approximately 65 pounds while Miley was a Maltese mix that weighed 8 pounds. There had been problems in the past with resource guarding and several “scuffles” between the two dogs. After our initial consultation, Eileen and I had mapped out a management plan. This plan involved leashes, gates, crates and securely closed doors.… Continued


The What, Where and When of Rewards


By Lily Mickleburgh  The use of rewards in dog training is becoming increasingly popular as an effective way of encouraging desired behaviours. However, subtle differences in what you use as a reward, where and when you reward them, can all change depending on your end goal. This may also vary depending on breed traits, age of the dog and whether you want to build energy or encourage calm in your goal behaviour. WHAT is the motivator? Toys are a great way of building energy and enthusiasm for something like heel work or recall,… Continued


January 28, 2019: New Study Examines Adult Womens’ Sleep Quality, Routines in Relation to Pet Ownership


Scientists have gathered data to investigate whether the presence of a pet in the bed impacts human sleep quality either positively or negatively, and found that “dogs who slept in the owner’s bed were perceived to disturb sleep less and were associated with stronger feelings of comfort and security. Conversely, cats who slept in their owner’s bed were reported to be equally as disruptive as human partners, and were associated with weaker feelings of comfort and security than both human and dog bed partners.” Read study


Dogs and Marshmallows


I’ve been interested in dogs and self-restraint for as long as I have trained dogs. So, several years ago, a friend and I applied an adapted version of the Marshmallow Test to her guide dog. Alberta passed with flying colors. Her current guide, Koala, also aced the test. For decades, the Marshmallow Test has been a sort of shorthand for self-restraint; it was thought to predict all sorts of things, like whether a person would do well on SATs or succeed in saving enough for retirement. In the spring, I… Continued


Dog Owner Confidence Crash!


There’s so much written about emotions of our dogs, how they’re thinking and what they’re feeling in various provocative situations and scenarios, but sometimes I think we, the dog owners, may end up being a little neglected! You can’t successfully help dogs with behavioral or training issues alone; you also have to see how they interact with their owner/dog guardian and what that relationship is. It’s a complex dynamic.  One component of that incredibly complicated relationship I want to bring to the fore here though is confidence – one small… Continued


Winter Hiking Tips for You and Your Dog


Winter is here, but that doesn’t mean you and your dog need to stay inside. A dog needs both physical and mental daily exercise. Hiking with your dog in the winter can be a lot of fun. But, before you walk out the front door with your dog in tow, you and your dog need to be prepared for your winter hike. Below are some suggestions to get you and your dog ready for your Arctic adventure. Physical Abilities– Before setting up to climb Mount Everest, you want to truly… Continued


Getting Started with Touch Cues


By Debbie Bauer There are two types of touch cues – these are cues that you give to your dog by touching various parts of his body in different ways, to mean different things.  If your dog can’t see or hear you cues, touch cues give you the perfect way to begin communicating with him.  Having a way to communicate is crucial to living in harmony with your dog.  You can tell him what to expect to happen, and how you want him to respond.  And your dog will feel… Continued


A Quadrant by Any Other Name is Still a Cornerstone of Operant Learning


This 2003 edition book is $4.89 on Amazon. Contents: priceless. There is a science that deals directly with how organisms learn and how to use that information to change the environment in order to change behavior. It’s called applied behavior analysis (ABA). It is the applied version of behavior analysis, which was referred to as the experimental analysis of behavior earlier in the 20th century.  It is descended from the work of the behaviorists such as Skinner and is a sub-discipline of psychology. It is a rich field of study.… Continued


Getting Scientific about Dominance


By Don Hanson What we know about the science of canine behavior and dog training is continually evolving. As such, every year I like to select a new book to recommend to my students, my staff, area veterinarians, and my colleagues that I feel will be the most beneficial to them and their dogs. This year I have chosen Dog Smart: Evidence-based Training with The Science Dog by Linda P. Case. At the beginning of her book, Case states she has two primary objectives: “…to provide accurate summaries of some… Continued


Give New Pets Time to Adjust


Getting a new pet is exciting and family members may feel eager to get started with all the fun they have imagined having with their new addition. That is certainly how I felt about every new animal which I took into my care over the years. Even though the new pet may well be in a better place than previously, this is a significant change for animals and people alike. Planning ahead can help avoid pitfalls. Considering the needs of the specific species is a good first step, and the… Continued


Want Your Dog to Listen? Stop Doing This!


By Yvette Van Veen Dog training often boils down to a single statement. “I want my dog to listen.” It’s a reasonable request and seems simple.  We ask our dogs to do something.  In return, we want the dog to listen to that request and respond in a timely manner.  Training is the process by which we teach our dog to do this. People are often disappointed when they wind up with dogs that only seem to listen some of the time.  They are disappointed that their dog only listens if they reach for a… Continued


January 9, 2019: Study Examines Cat-Human Social Behavior


A new study has been conducted to “assess the influence of human attentional state, population, and human familiarity on domestic cat sociability,” and reported that “[h]uman familiarity did not significantly influence pet cat sociability behaviors. Overall, a wide range of sociability scores was seen, indicating individual variation is an important consideration in cat social behavior.” Read study


Is “Maybe” Addictive?


By Louise Stapleton-Frappell In operant conditioning, behavioral responses that are positively reinforced increase in frequency, intensity or duration. The cue is given, the response occurs, reinforcement follows and the loop is repeated. One would perhaps expect dopamine levels to rise upon receipt of the reinforcer. But do they? Some studies have shown that increases in dopamine are not, in fact, directly related to the reinforcer. Rather, it is the anticipation of the reinforcer that causes dopamine levels to spike. Although dopamine signals may well be activated during the consumption of a tasty… Continued


Portland Blog Competition: Redirecting Aggressive Behavior


By Dr. Lynn Bahr As cat lovers, we’ve all been scratched at least once. But why do some cats play so rough when others never scratch or bite? Cats, by their very nature, are ferocious hunters. These behaviors are formed when they are very young by instinct, observation and playing with their littermates. Through stalking, chasing, swatting, biting and pouncing on their siblings, kittens develop their precise hunting skills. But when cats are removed from this environment too young or don’t have an adult cat to keep them in line,… Continued


Variety Is the Spice of Life


By Danette Johnston When I opened a dog day care 19 years ago, I did so because I had been working a shelter and noticed that the majority of the dogs in the shelter were there because they were not getting enough stimulation, both physical and mental. I thought a dog coming to day care five days a week would be swell. “A tired dog is a well behaved dog” right? Well, what I found in reality is that five days a week of day care is actually quite stressful… Continued



Over the Moon!


By Debbie Bauer I am over-the-moon proud of my boy Vinny this month!  He and I were away from home for three weeks this month, visiting new places, doing new things, and he took it all in stride.  We had a blast!  It was, of course, so hard to leave the other dogs for that long.  Both Vinny and I missed them so much!  And this was the first long trip that I did not bring Treasure on since she came to live with me 8 years ago.  It was… Continued


10 Reasons Why the Holidays Might Not Be So Full of Festive Cheer for Your Pet


It’s nearly Christmas, traditionally the time of year when we look forward to enjoying lots of yummy food, time with our friends and family, hopefully a break from work and of course – pressies! Lots of us also think about involving our dogs and cats and other furries in the festivities; gifts, advent calendars, novelty costumes etc. but how often do we think about the psychological impact of those couple of weeks? True, it’s lovely to have lots of fun with our pets, they’re part of the family after all,… Continued


Which Pavlov Is on Your Shoulder?


The trainer Bob Bailey is often quoted as saying that when one is training an animal, “Pavlov is on your shoulder.” He is reminding us that while we are training operant behaviors (sit, down, fetch, weave), there are also respondent behaviors and respondent conditioning occurring. Respondent behaviors are behaviors that are generally involuntary and that include reflexes, internal surges of hormones, and (probably) emotions. But there’s another part that is not quoted as often. Bob Bailey also says that while Pavlov is on one of your shoulders, Skinner is on… Continued


Partnering With the Veterinary Community


As a force-free professional dog trainer and behavior consultant I practice a holistic approach to pet care and training and have worked to develop a network of professionals in various fields who serve the needs of dog owners. These services are grooming, pet sitting, boarding, daycare, pet supplies and veterinary. My goal is to develop a referral network with those who put the welfare of pets at the pinnacle of their business model, as I do. As a result of this strategy I enjoy referrals from about 15 veterinarians with… Continued


The Many Faces of Behavior Myopia: Recognizing the Subtle Signs


By Eileen Anderson and Angelica Steinker The fundamental goal of any behavior modification program should be to improve the dog’s1 and owner’s emotional states, both during and after the process. If emotional, genetic or medical information is omitted from the functional assessment process however, the ensuing behavior modification plan will be incomplete, which not only runs the risk of recommended interventions being inappropriate and misdirected, but may also have disastrous consequences. Unfortunately, behavior myopia such as this is an all too common occurrence in our industry. From a dog’s point of view,… Continued


Walking the Force-Free Path


By Daniel Antolec I recently enjoyed a thought-provoking conversation with a respected colleague on the subject of force-free professional dog training and my former career as a police officer. I think her expectation was that, given my background in law enforcement, I might be inclined to use forceful methods, such as those commonly associated with so-called “dominance theory.”…When I chose to become a dog trainer I discovered the force-free philosophy I now formally embrace. It was a natural transition. I do not use fear, intimidation or inflict pain on dogs… Continued


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