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A Cautionary Tale

By Kayla Sprague When I got home I pulled out a pretty pink collar from my drawer with Cupcake’s old ID tag and thought, “Well little girl, as you’re staying for a bit you’ll need this.” I thought it would be a breeze, just snap it on and she’s good to go outside. WRONG! Wow, was I wrong. The collar clicked and she whipped round to take off my arm. I was stunned. What just happened? This sweet little girl had all of a sudden became an attack dog. She… Continued

Why Your Dog Doesn’t Know Sit

By Yvette Van Veen When I was a young girl, my grandmother would send gifts of books from Czechoslovakia.  The books were filled with stunning moving pop-up illustrations.  I learned a lot from those books.  I learned how those illustrations popped up.  I learned how one moving part operated another moving part.  What I failed to learn was how to read Czech.  My attention was so fixated on the illustrations that I memorized the words.  I recited the story based on the illustration.  I never focused on the letters.  Illustrations… Continued

September 6, 2018: French Survey Highlights “a High Ratio of E-Collar Use in a Country without Regulations”

Questionnaire distributed to 1,251 dog owners reports that 26 percent of the owners use e-collars, 11.9 percent use bark-activated collars, 4.5 percent use electronic boundary fence collars, and 14.2 percent use remote-controlled collars. Authors state that e-collar use was found to be “significantly associated with 3 factors: dogs weighing over 40 kg, non-neutered status, and dogs used for hunting or security activities. In addition, the data collected showed that e-collars were mainly used on young dogs (<2 years). The vast majority of e-collar users (71.8%) used the collar without professional advice, and 75% of… Continued

How to Achieve Purrvana

By Daniel “DQ” Quagliozzi Okay cat guardians, summer is coming to an end and it’s time to make some resolutions that are going to count for your cats. It takes a joint effort between cat and caretaker to make positive changes manifest in the right way. If you can make the right causes for your cat, a bounty of kitty abundance awaits in a place that I like to call, “Purr-vana”, where all of your cat’s needs are met in an environment that honors what it truly feels like to… Continued

Positive Associations

By Debbie Bauer When teaching blind and deaf puppies, it is always a fine line between empowering them and building their confidence, while also protecting them from getting hurt. Just like any other puppy, one less than ideal experience can imprint on them and affect how they will feel about and respond to that experience in the future. This required that I take extra steps to protect them. I had to think ahead in every circumstance and set them up for absolute safety in their exploration. Even giving them freedom… Continued

The Continuing Education of a City

By Kathy Wolff My philosophy has always been to help folks understand the “why” of what we do together. I found this created an environment of collaboration and cooperation between myself and my clients. Fast forward to present day and here I am, a certified professional dog trainer, graduate of distinction from CATCH Canine Trainers Academy. I espouse the training methodology of force-free positive reinforcement dog training techniques. And, I am a crossover trainer. Back in the day I was one of those trainers who would leash pop, yank, push… Continued

The Freedom of Choice

By Lara Joseph Abnormal repetitive behaviors (ARBs) are behaviors you do not generally see in animals living in the wild. A few examples of such ARBs are pacing, rocking, repetitive swimming patterns, nail biting, flipping, head swinging and rhythmic screaming. Over the years, I have done a lot of digging through research papers published by Elsevier, the academic publishing company for medical and scientific literature. Through this digging and experimentation, I have found that one common denominator for these behaviors is an unenriched environment that constricts the animal’s choice and… Continued

Ask the Experts: Optimizing Your Website

By Veronica Boutelle If people are finding your site but not reaching out once they do, you’ve got either a messaging problem or a usability issue. Studies suggest that people take two to three seconds to decide whether to stay on any given site they land on. Two to three seconds! That’s not a lot of time to convince someone they’re in the right place. So if someone can’t at a glance learn what you do and how it will make their lives better, you may well lose them. Take… Continued

A Long-Term Solution

By Lara Joseph …the mutilating behavior was getting worse. The keepers admitted they couldn’t give their attention to creating the foraging toys I had advised, and told me Abbey was now taking his food and placing it into the hole he had created in his chest. I understood the keepers’ inability to dedicate the time to the toys. Unfortunately, I also noticed a decrease in the ability to divert Abbey from his chest. The behavior had increased dramatically. I got him out of his cage, and even when standing on… Continued

Equine Social Structure

By Kathie Gregory In studies that have not been subject to manipulation, I have yet to find reports of dominance hierarchy. Disagreements are low key, with horses being tolerant of each other…When there are very small groups, it is likely that an older, experienced horse initiates more movement than younger ones. These factors make it look like horses have one specific leader, but this is unnatural equine behavior due to the influence of external conditions and incorrect to apply these findings to all horse populations. Studies by Rees (2017) show that… Continued

Getting on Their Level

By Emily Cassell Rabbits are well known for their ability to, well, multiply like rabbits. They are not however, well known for maternal care. Indeed, every spring wildlife rehabbers are plagued with baby bunnies that were “abandoned” and then “rescued” by well-intentioned animal-lovers. One of a mother rabbit’s strategies for protecting her young is to spend very little time with them in an effort to not draw attention to her nest. Does nurse their kits just twice a day, so many people assume that, because momma rabbit is nowhere near… Continued

Cool for Cats

By Tabitha Kucera We are all familiar with puppy socialization, but do not hear about kitten socialization anywhere near as often. In fact, however, it is as important for kittens to be properly socialized and trained as it is for puppies. The effects of poor socialization can result in cats who hide from visitors, fear other pets, adapt slowly to new environments, and they can also be fearful and aggressive with handling at veterinary visits. These cats are more likely to become stressed and/or fearful and start urinating out of… Continued

Reaching the Holy Grail of Training

 By Yvette Van Veen Years ago, I taught our Kiki a formal recall using targeting.  Systematically I proceeded to work through the exercise.  Much to my delight, Kiki developed the most fantastic competition recall.  People gasped at her speed and enthusiasm.  Her formal recall never failed us over the years.  You could say that it had behavioural momentum. Domjan, in The Principles of Learning and Behavior describes behavioural momentum as, “response persistence in extinction.”  In non-technical language, behaviours with momentum are enthusiastic, despite distractions.  They are highly resistant to extinction. … Continued

7 Ways to Get Behaviour

Guest Post by Karolina Westlund Ph.D There are two important questions to ask before teaching an animal a new skill. In another blog post, I discussed the first question, one that is extremely basic but often overlooked: “what is the cost/benefit of the behaviour”. Is it useful, useless, abuse or an ethical dilemma? Once a behaviour has been found to be useful, it’s time to consider how to best go about teaching it. The second question. Which is the best technique to teach the animal how to perform a new skill? You know the… Continued

Ask the Experts: But I Hate Marketing!

By Veronica Boutelle Part of the distaste around marketing for most positive reinforcement dog professionals is the seedy feeling of selling ourselves. But with strong content-based marketing like a newsletter, you don’t have to sing your own praises so much. Readers will be able to experience your professionalism and expertise just by enjoying the advice and insights you share. You can use newsletters to market more widely. Because you’re offering good, solid reading material, you can leave newsletters outside normal marketing channels. Put yours in dentist offices and hair salons and… Continued

A Positive Impact

By Pam Francis-Tuss A five-week program that meets three days per week, Adolescent Learning Powered by Humane Advocacy (ALPHA) pairs incarcerated teens at the Sacramento Youth Detention Facility with shelter dogs for the purpose of training. Twice a week, with the assistance of a team of volunteers, the teens work in pairs, at my direction, collaborating with one another to train their dog. The third day each week is spent engaging with guest speakers who work with animals to expose the youth to animal related careers such as shelter workers,… Continued

The Three C’s of Enrichment

By Lara Joseph Shaping challenges in an animal’s environment is something I see caretakers struggle with on a regular basis without even realizing it. Any environment can get stagnant over a period of time if it does not change. In my experience, the more an animal’s environment stays the same, the less he tends to interact with it. The less he interacts, the less he manipulates outcomes, and the less he manipulates outcomes, the fewer choices he makes. What effects do these restricted choices have on the animal and his… Continued

The Miracle Mutt

By Gail Radtke …when [Lanie] was a year old, I applied to the St. John Ambulance Therapy Dog Program in Maple Ridge, BC. This is a Canada-wide program that involves certified handlers and dogs volunteering their time to visit hospitals and senior care homes in their area…The conditioning process in a graded-task approach was vital to having a dog who can work with noise, yelling or anything startling. We had to ensure that we worked below Lanie’s startle threshold and maintained a positive association with whatever we were exposing her… Continued

Performance Anxiety

By Kathie Gregory People such as the vet and the farrier need to get the job done in a timely manner. They do not have a lot of time, and waiting for as long as it takes for a horse to respond is not always viable; something we are well aware of. But knowing this creates a problem because we think our horse must do what is needed immediately. We are now in a state of anxiety, and sometimes embarrassed at the thought of not being good enough to achieve… Continued

Think Outside the Cage

By Amy Martin Parrots thrive in an environment worthy of investigation. In fact, healthy parrots require this. No matter how large a parrot’s enclosure is, it is still basically a modified jail cell. There needs to be a variety of ways for each species of parrot to play and actively engage with their environment as they would choose to do in the wild. Consider how the parrot could safely navigate his world inside and outside of his enclosure. Not only could many parrots benefit mentally and physically from time outside… Continued

Slowly Does It

By Patience Fisher There are many challenges for shelters in finding adoptive homes for cats. As an adoption counselor, I always found it disheartening to have a cat returned to the shelter for not getting along with the resident cats. During the adoption process, the concept of slow introductions was explained, but upon the cat’s return we often found out that the introduction process had been rushed. As a result, I saw a need for a very simple, short, how-to brochure for introducing a new cat to a resident cat.… Continued

Aggression from Hearing Impairment?

By Morag Heirs In the case of early or late-onset deafness where the presenting dog was not born deaf, but has become deaf due to ear infections, trauma or deterioration in old age, we may find that a change in behavior is attributed to the deafness…In fact, an interesting paper by Farmer-Dougan, Quick, Harper et al. (2014) reported that, based on a sample of 461 dog-owners, hearing- or vision-impaired dogs were less likely to show aggression among other undesirable behaviors. With this in mind, I am going to present a case… Continued

August 28, 2018: UK Kennel Club’s #BanShockCollars Campaign Comes to Fruition

The United Kingdom Kennel Club has announced the successful outcome of its 10-year campaign to ban the use of electric shock collars in animal training, adding that, with an estimated 5 per cent of dog owners curently using electric shock collars, “a complete ban on their use across the UK should mean half a million dogs will be saved from being trained by these highly aversive devices.” Read article.

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