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Thinking Outside the (Litter) Box

By Marilyn Krieger Litter box avoidance is one of the most common reason cats are surrendered to shelters and euthanized. It is so sad and so unnecessary. Although the problem is hard to live with, it is also one of the easiest to solve. Some of the solutions are simple — others are more involved. Male and female cats of all ages can develop litter box challenges. There is always a legitimate reason for cats to avoid using their litter boxes. They are not bad cats, nor are they misbehaving.… Continued

The Argument against Prong Collars

By Diane Garrod A prong collar has a pair of prongs approximately every inch. The prongs are made of wire, approximately 3⁄32 inches in diameter. Still ignoring the drawstring effect – each prong contacts the neck with an area of only about 7⁄1000 inches2. So 20 prongs, 80 pounds, generate about 579 psi at each prong tip, assuming they are blunt, not pointed. If the prongs are located over the larynx it is hard to imagine injury (at least bruising) NOT occurring. This pressure will easily collapse any blood vessel… Continued

Bunny Myths Busted

By Emily Cassell  Rabbits require much more care than has been described [in this article]. Their physical needs are large for their size. Their dietary needs are expensive and labor-intensive. Rabbits are stronger, smarter, and more mischievous than could ever be conceived for their size, and they can be incredibly destructive. They can be ridiculously loud for being largely non-vocal. Rabbits are highly social, and lack of a friend, whether it be another rabbit or a person, can lead to problem behavior and potentially even health problems. Rabbits are small,… Continued

The Crossover Client

By Eileen Anderson When I crossed over to training primarily with positive reinforcement, I had no idea how much my behavior and even my belief system would need to change. I had to question my faith in some long-held cultural assumptions and learn to rely on scientific observation and analysis. Crossing over was a lengthy process for me, and even now, after several years, I occasionally fall back onto old assumptions and behaviors. I wonder sometimes if I am the only one so vulnerable to cultural programming. But a quick look… Continued

When Standard Positive Reinforcement Fails

By Yvette Van Veen Early in my dog training days, I remember having a brain storming conversation with a trainer friend who was also a mentor.  To put it in context, this person was ahead of me in their learning curve.  She was quite good but was also early in her journey.  I learned from her and we would brainstorm various problems together. I remember one conversation very clearly.  She could not get her dog to like nail trims.  We broke down the problem.  We talked about technique.  We Googled.… Continued

December 8, 2018: Study Assesses Canine Cognition

The study argues that investigations into canine cognition should consider dogs “from three different perspectives: phylogenetically, as carnivoran and specifically a canid; ecologically, as social, cursorial hunters; and anthropogenically, as a domestic animal.” In their introduction, the authors state that:  “A principled understanding of canine cognition should therefore involve comparing dogs’ cognition with that of other carnivorans, other social hunters, and other domestic animals.” Read study

Training Your Cat to Sit on Cue

By Jennifer Van Valkenburg I actually came to cat training completely by accident. My kitty was overweight and unhealthy so her vet recommended an entirely new lifestyle. This came with adding exercise (I remember thinking, how do you exercise a cat? – more on that later) and a new food regimen. No more leaving a pile of food in her dish every day, now her diet was strictly controlled. So now instead of eating whenever she wanted, she had to wait for me to feed her twice a day.* The… Continued

Space Invaders

By Eileen Anderson Let’s say you are standing at a party, or in your office, or on your front lawn. Someone you vaguely know walks up to you. He walks up very close, face-to-face, and close enough that you can see up his nose and smell his breath. He starts a conversation. What do you do? You will probably have a strong urge to step back. You may or may not do it, depending on the social situation or a host of other reasons. But when someone we don’t know well… Continued

Take Your Dog Training Career to the Next Level with Karen Pryor Academy

By Karen Pryor Academy Do you want to feel empowered with the skills to become a dog trainer who is ready to launch a successful business or career? Karen Pryor Academy’s Dog Trainer Professional (DTP) program is for anyone with a significant interest in dog training and behavior. It’s a life-changing course for those looking to change careers or to add training skill to their animal care skill set, like a veterinary technician, pet sitter/walker, or groomer. The DTP program is for the highly motivated trainer who has specific goals… Continued

The Inefficacy of BSL

By BARKS from the Guild The Pet Professional Guild (PPG) is becoming increasingly alarmed at the number of dogs being seized or banned in a variety of communities worldwide based purely on their breed or appearance, allegedly in the interest of public safety. At the same time, there is little, if any, assessment of an individual dog’s behavior or environment, their owners’ knowledge of canine behavior and training, and/or their suitability as a dog guardian…There are several factors that contribute to the potential for dog bites and Breed Specific Legislation… Continued

Stay Safe: Plan Ahead

By Daniel Antolec Anyone working with dogs understands the need for safety, but the member of the family you are working with that has a furry coat and 42 teeth may not pose the greatest threat. In conversation with some colleagues recently, I was surprised how many had experienced dangerous clients, whether in a group class or a private session.Many canine behavior and training professionals are women, and very distressingly, most victims of violent crime in the culture of my homeland, the United States, are women. During my time in… Continued

Double Your Money: The Hidden Advantage of Using Food to Train

By Eileen Anderson We’ve all heard the comments: ‘You’re bribing your dog!’ ‘Training with treats makes dogs fat!’ ‘What do you do if your dog runs into traffic? Throw cookies at it?’ BARKS from the Guild is one publication whose audience knows better. I do not believe I need to convince anyone here of the benefits and ethics of using food, a potent primary reinforcer, to train our animals. But I would like to talk about one of the advantages of using food that is rarely discussed: the way classical conditioning… Continued

Our Greatest Teachers

By Lara Joseph In my opinion, as trainers, our best teachers are the animals we struggle to find opportunities to effectively communicate with. Animals such as these often come to us with reinforcement histories that incorporate a variety of approaches, interactions, and consequences to behavior, meaning a lot of counterconditioning will be required. As a result, we find ourselves having to think outside the box and be creative in where we begin…I began training [Willoughby the turkey vulture] from outside her enclosure because she wouldn’t let me inside. As soon… Continued

Social Relationships in the Domestic Horse

By Kathie Gregory Within the daily routine, there are opportunities for horses to meet each other and start the beginnings of social interaction, whether they are in hand, being ridden or in neighboring stalls. Giving the horses this vital interaction will result in them getting to know each other. The observant person will see who they move towards, and who they keep a distance from. Even in a highly managed situation, it is possible to do the daily work by letting the horses that show an interest in each other… Continued

Dogs on the Road

By Diane Garrod Traveling in a home on wheels can be a disaster without thorough planning. Any trip can be a full sensory overload for a dog with new smells to explore, wildlife to avoid, and evening jaunts in new environments. Before inviting your dog or other animals to travel with you, then, an acclimation period is necessary…Before heading out, prepare how you will teach (acclimate) your dog to tolerate and accept riding in a home moving at the equivalent of a level four earthquake, jostling down a noisy highway.… Continued

Friends, Foes or Something in Between?

By Paula Garber Unlike free-roaming cats who self-select their social group, owned cats living in multicat households don’t—owners do the choosing instead. And when people add cats to a household, they frequently overlook the social differences of the individuals involved, both the resident cats and the new additions. One survey of cat owners revealed that in more than half of multicat households, the cats were simply put together instead of being slowly introduced, and that in half of those households, cats fought with one another (Levine, Perry, Scarlett & Houpt,… Continued

Portland Blog Competition: Tips to Reduce Leash Reactivity

By Michelle Wieser  When a leashed dog barks, pulls or lunges at other dogs (or wildlife, skateboards, kids, bikers, etc.), it is known as leash reactivity. Dogs may feel trapped and restricted by the leash and, unfortunately, given that they can’t voluntarily remove themselves from the situation (think fight or flight), it can lead to reactive outbursts during leashed walks if a dog is feeling threatened, anxious, stressed, fearful, or, indeed, excited to meet a stranger or another dog. Regardless of the reason, it’s not fun for anyone so here… Continued

Building Bonds That Last

By Jennifer Shryock Because dog and baby/toddler dynamics are constantly evolving, I would like to suggest that we shift the emphasis from the standard ‘introducing dog to baby’ and focus instead on working to build bonds as baby grows through ongoing, consistent trust and comfort. It has become more common for families to prepare their dog for the arrival of a baby, but far less common for them to prepare for the stages of crawling or beginning to walk. Ideally, planning and preparation would continue for each new developmental stage… Continued

BARKS Podcast with Dr. Jean Dodds, DVM: December 12, 2018.

Guest: Dr. Jean Dodds DVM, Founder of Hemopet  Topic: An article regarding vaccinations that was inaccurately attributed to Dr. Dodds and has been circulating. Dr. Dodds reviewed the article, rebuts statements and corrected the vaccination protocol. Listen to the Recorded Podcast Here

Road Trip with Your Dog | Dog Travel Tips

Hitting the open road with a dog can be a great adventure. There are so many great dog-friendly destinations you can explore, but traveling with dogs can be a challenge if you aren’t prepared. To get you and Fido ready for your next vacation with your dog, I have 5 of my best dog-friendly travel tips. 5 Dog-Friendly Road-Trip Tips 1. Plan Ahead– When taking a road trip with a dog, it’s always easier if you plan ahead. You don’t have to have everything set in stone, but researching your… Continued

Career Aptitude Testing … for Dogs

What if there were a test that could tell you whether a dog would make a good assistance dog or detection dog or search & rescue dog … or whatever career you hoped the dog would choose? Researchers Evan MacLean and Brian Hare are working on it. Their recently published study, “Enhanced Selection of Assistance and Explosive Detection Dogs Using Cognitive Measures,” describes initial attempts to create a sort of career aptitude test for working dogs. What I love about this study: It recognizes that dogs’ cognitive abilities a) exist,… Continued

November 26, 2018: Study Investigates whether Dogs Know when They Are Wrong

New research has investigated the presence of metacognitive abilities in dogs and found that, if dogs know they do not have sufficient information to solve a problem they will actively try to seek more information. Researchers discovered this by conducting three consecutive experiments “in which dogs had to find a reward that was hidden behind one of two V-shaped fences with a gap at the point of the V.” They “varied whether dogs had visual access to the baiting procedure or not” and found that the dogs “checked more often through… Continued

Dogs and ‘Digging In’

I work with many owners of rescue or re-homed dogs and one topic I’ve thought about many times, sometimes raised by owners themselves and possibly a little controversial, is do we sometimes give up on our dogs too easily? Of course, an important aspect of this is whether we have the necessary, realistic expectations when taking on a dog in the first place. In my experience, sometimes a dog and owner combination just doesn’t work for an infinite number of reasons – just like a human relationship!  In this situation,… Continued

Portland Blog Competition: Canine Aggression – The Public Perception

By Hannah Blumenfeld  “Not a nice dog,” says the woman on the sidewalk. Lucy and I had just walked past her, and although I was shoving treats in Lucy’s mouth, the woman locked eyes with my beautiful beast. This scares the bejeezus out of Lucy, so she barks. And, yes, sometimes lunges. I do not correct the woman; I don’t tell her that Lucy is, in fact, a very nice dog. A couple months earlier, we were walking past a family of four. First came the mom and older daughter.… Continued

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